Sunday, January 20, 2008

JPA Scholarships

Republished my earlier posts at ReCom and Tin Kosong on JPA Scholarships.

Since I wrote this in January 2007, a couple of new things have been changed.

1. Those with at least 10A1s and with family income of below RM1,500, would be guaranteed JPA Overseas Scholarship.

2. Proportion of marks for SPM results is now 70% and interview is 10%.

I would again want to mention that this is written with what I think the JPA Scholarships are. I'm by no way writing this with authority. Am just writing this as an ex-JPA Scholar. So, please read this at your own risk. Good Luck on your scholarship applications!


Are you students who have just taken your SPM a couple of months ago? Do you desire to further your studies abroad under a full scholarship from the Public Service Department (or fondly known as the Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA))? Do you have the aspiration to serve the nation? If your answers are yes for all the above questions, do read ahead!

I am writing this based on my personal experience of being a JPA scholar, my interaction with other scholars through and TinKosong in the past few years. Whatever that is shared below is in no way constituting the official information from JPA This is just for your guidance and if there is any discrepancy, always follow the information from JPA as the information changes frequently. I am writing this based on information gathered from batches up to SPM 2005.

To qualify for the scholarship, the current minimum requirement is A2 for all the core subjects. This would include Bahasa Malaysia, History, English, Islamic Education/Moral Education, as well as main subjects for your field. For example, for science stream students, it would be Mathematic, Additional Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

For each major, a distinct combination of subjects would be required as the minimum requirement. This is very crucial! Do not apply for courses that you do not fulfill the minimum requirements, especially if you do not take that subject in SPM. I can’t recall the exact combination of courses that are required for Economics but this is a very common pitfall where students who do not take those subjects in SPM would not even be offered an interview even though they attain straights A1s in SPM.

Based on past experience, getting a B3 in any of the subject mentioned above would most likely mean that you would not get the chance to even attend the interview. One thing to note is that typically, there would be more than 5000 SPM candidates who fulfill the requirement out of 400,000 SPM leavers.

For SPM 2004 batch, a total of 1,290 of JPA scholarships were offered. This means that on average, for 300 SPM takers, there would be 1 JPA scholar, or about 0.33% of chances for a typical SPM taker. About the same number of scholarships was offered last year, and if there is no change in JPA’s policy, we would expect the same number of scholarships this year.10,098 students applied for JPA scholarships for SPM 2004 batch, so on average, the chance is about 12.77%. Of course, the number of applicants would increase every year and bring down the chances.

Usually the application deadline for JPA scholarships is 10-14 days after the SPM results are announced. The interview process would normally happen in April. For those who apply for medical courses, you would be expected to spend a day or two in hospital, so that JPA can gauge your dedication towards medical fields. Usually, the scholarship decision would be known in May of June. For SPM 2005 batch, JPA offered scholarships for the following majors to the following countries. This list might very from year to year.

On the selection criteria, JPA focuses on 9 core subjects for academic results. This would constitute 65% (Edit: This should be 70% now) of the selection points. Based on past experience, it is very crucial to have 9A1s in these core subjects (there are hundreds, if not thousands of students with 9A1s for their core subjects), especially if you are applying for competitive programs.

Family income would constitute another 10% of the selection. Based on past year’s counting, those with family monthly income of RM5000 of below (majority of Malaysian family falls under this category. Monthly income of approximately RM1500 per month ould mean 10 points, RM5001-RM10000 would mean 5 points and more than RM10001 would mean 0 point. The other 10% would come from co-curricular activities.

There are 3 aspects for these co-curricular activities, i.e. uniformed bodies/clubs/societies, sports and other achievements. For each aspect, you are evaluated for your top 5 unique achievements. If you have achievements in only 1 sport, then you would receive zero point for the other 4 achievements in sports. For sports and other achievements categories, it would be based on your highest level of representation.

For past years, it doesn’t matter whether you win or not in the competition. It is measured based on your highest level of representation. So, it would be 1 point for representing the country, 0.8 point for representing the state, 0.6 point for representing the district, 0.4 point for representing the school and 0.2 point for representing clubs/societies. So, if you only represent your school in 1 report, you would get 0.4 out of 5 points. I am not too sure how the 15% is converted to 10%.

There are 2 possibilities of how it is done. Normalize that 15% to 10%, or choose the top 2 categories. I would think that the former method is done. For uniformed bodies/clubs/societies, this is based on your highest position held. Head prefect would most probably earn you 1% and the chain of point goes down as you move down the layer of positions, eg: President of Clubs/Societies, Prefects, Secretary, Vice President, Treasurer, Committee Member, Member etc. It is crucial for you to fill up the form with the optimum point in mind. You would need to show the certificates during interview, and that is just to verify that you fill up honestly.

A common misconception of applicants would be that they think that they have excellent co-curricular activities (especially if they are comparing with their friends in same high school). However, one thing to note, there are thousands of high school. Let’s put this into perspective. Assume that you are a prefect, president of 1 society in school, secretary in another society in school and a committee member of another society. Lets assume that we have only 1,000 secondary schools in Malaysia, and each school, has 20 prefects only (most schools have much more) and 20 societies only (with 1 president, 1 secretary and 5 committee members). This would mean that there are 20,000 prefects in Malaysia, 20,000 presidents of societies, 20,000 secretaries and 100,000 committee members.

The last portion of 15% (Edit: This should be 10% now) is interview performance. This is typically a group discussion of between 6-12 people, where you would get questions of a topic, eg: National Service, and you are required to discuss among fellow JPA scholarship applicants for 1 hour. For a long list of past-year interview questions, please go to The Worldwide Malaysian Students Network for it. During the interview, JPA officers would often let the group of you to discuss freely, where they just sit back and observe.

The most common pitfall is dominating the discussion. Often, students would come out from the interview room, thinking that they have done very well, since they provide more than half of the discussion content, and speak for like 30 minutes during the 1 hour. If you are doing this, your chance diminishes close to zero. What they are observing is your leadership abilities, communication skills, listening skills (This is crucial, most people just think of sharing your thoughts and not augmenting what others say), analytical skills etc.

If there are group members who are quiet, you should lead and guide them to share their opinion. You should try to lead the discussion into a framework, where you will not fall out of topic. It is very easy to sway from the topic of discussion. Try to summarize the discussion too. This would show your management and leadership skill, which is crucial for future civil servants. Provide solid arguments with convincing examples and not just mere loads of normal ideas. Quality matters. Do make eye contacts with the interviewers and other students.

If you are not successful in your application, you should definitely try your best to appeal. If you do not appeal, you stand zero chance of getting the scholarship. If you appeal, you would have a finite positive chance of getting the scholarship. So, why not try? Merely complaining that it is not fair would not boost your chance at all. JPA would have a specific form for you to appeal. Do submit your appeal directly to JPA, while providing a copy to various parties to help you appeal. MCA, through the leadership of YB Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Ting, has managed to help many students appealing to JPA. The same goes to Gerakan, UMNO, MIC as well.

I hope this sharing would benefit many of you, especially those of you who did your SPM in 2006. Good Luck to all of you! Hopefully you would share this resource with your friends. Explore all the information here in TinKosong, a site which is fully run by volunteers to help fellow younger generation of Malaysians, i.e. you! If you have anything to share, do write in to TinKosong so that you are be able to share with fellow Malaysians! Being one of the co-developer of The Worldwide Malaysian Student Network (Another site fully run by volunteers, with total web hits exceeding 8.8 million), I would encourage you to visit that site too (if you haven’t), to read through tons of sharing by many who have gone through the process of applying for scholarships, as well as questions by many of your peers. Do post your questions there (There is no stupid question!) and do share any information that you know with your friends. (The more you share, the more others are willing to share too). We are trying to inculcate the sharing and learning culture. For the past few years, hundreds of JPA scholars are members. Hopefully, we can see the same trend again this year. Good luck!


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