An interview with an ASEAN scholar
We caught up with 17 year-old Yow J-Anne, a Malaysian from Alor Setar, who received the prestigious ASEAN scholarship and is currently studying in Singapore. J-Anne shares with us on her winning scholarship application and life in Lion City.
Hotcourses: How did you find out about the ASEAN Scholarship?
J-Anne: I found out about the scholarship from my sister as she was a scholar. My friends who were studying in Singapore as scholars also told me about the scholarship.
H: What was the application procedure?
J: First, I had to send in my resume and list down all the co-curricular activities, school exam results and achievements that I’ve received. Out of thousands of people, I was shortlisted. I then took a selection test. Those who did well were called in for an interview
H: Could you briefly explain the tests you took?
The selection test consists of three papers; English, Mathematics and General Ability. I found the Mathematics paper very tough. The General Ability test is very similar to the Raven’s test, where you’re supposed to find the best match for a certain pattern or sequence.
H: What about the interview?
J: The interviewers asked a lot of questions about myself like my hobbies, school life and friends. It’s more of a ‘getting to know you’ session so there’s no need to feel nervous.
H: How is Singapore’s education system different from Malaysia’s?
J: There’s a stronger emphasis on co-curricular activities and the school facilities are better equipped – particularly the science labs and sports halls. Students are required to do more critical thinking and problem solving. The standard of English in Singapore is also much higher than Malaysia’s, which is why the scholarship application states that students need to have a high proficiency in English.
H: How do you enjoy your studies in Singapore?
J: I’ve gained a lot of exposure since I started my studies. I really like the post examination programmes in school, where students can take a break from studies and get out of the classrooms to learn different skills. These include sandcastle building workshops, music and dance classes and career guidance talks.
H: Did you experience any difficulties when you first moved to Singapore?
J: The main challenge for me was being away from my parents at such a young age. I had to learn to be independent, manage my own finances, and most importantly, be disciplined, as there’s no one to look after me anymore. I also struggled with the syllabus when I first got here. Because they were very different from Malaysia’s, I had a hard time understanding my lessons, especially Chemistry. This was partly due to the Malaysian education system where students learn General Science in lower secondary, and only focus on the different science subjects like Biology, Physics and Chemistry in upper secondary. I couldn’t understand the chemical terms and formulas at first, but fortunately, I managed to catch up. It also took me some time to get used to the Mathematics questions, as they are not as direct as the Mathematics questions in Malaysia.
H: What does being a scholarship recipient mean to you?
J: As a scholar, I think I’m better equipped for the job market. The scholarship speaks for itself.
H: Any advice to other scholarship applicants?
J: Just go for it! There’s no harm trying for the scholarship. Even if you don’t get the scholarship, take it as an experience gained!
H: What do you do to chill?
J: I love photography!
An aspiring journalist with a passion for investigative journalistic work. Also a self-declared masterchef.