The Yayasan Khazanah (YK) Scholarship is known for only accepting the cream of the crop.
In March of 2022, Arianna Saiful, received coveted success in the final stage of the Yayasan Khazanah Early Harvest scholarship application.
A Kolej Yayasan Saad student and receiver of the KYS Founder’s Award in 2020, Arianna was also the Secretary of the Prefectorial Board (2021), Editor-in-Chief of Cemerlang (2019-2021), Assistant Secretary of the Debating Union (2021) and President of Girl Guides (2020).
She will continue her pre-university studies in Kolej Yayasan UEM, Lembah Beringin, undertaking the A Levels programme with her subjects being Mathematics, Economics, English Literature and History. She also aims to attend Oxford University for Law.
Arianna is most known for her achievements as a debater among her peers. In an interview with Cemerlang, she explained that she already had public speaking experience prior to joining the KYS Debate Team.
Debate is where she developed useful communication skills and the art of persuasion.
Creating a schedule or a study plan is important to prepare for any examination. For Arianna, being interested in the subject is key to understanding it, which is essential to score in the examinations.
“I’ve never believed in overloading our minds with information everyday.”
Light studying but doing so consistently can avoid one from having to burn the midnight oil studying at the last minute. Arianna generally knew what to study according to the days with extra focus on her weaker subjects such as additional mathematics, accounts and history. She also warned of the danger of burning yourself out.
Writing your own notes was also what she did, especially for “bigger” subjects such as history and economics where memory retention of the materials was key. Writing the notes in your “own words” can help with understanding.
Applying for Yayasan Khazanah Scholarship
Before the five stages of the YK Scholarship, there is the application process. During this process, being authentic and figuring out what makes you unique from the rest is of upmost importance.
Arianna stated that YK or any other scholarship body, emphasises on both academic performance and extra-curricular activities. It is important to have a balance between the two, which would demonstrate us as being able to manage our time well and productively.
Arianna recommends participating in established extra-curricular activities such as debate or going for a more niche club or society that is impactful.
For example, Arianna also spent time in Project ID, an organisation that aims to develop student leaders through a series of high impact activities. Its vision is to improve the socio-economic status of underserved communities in Malaysia through education.
Essay writing is another aspect of the application process that one needs to be prepared for. One can use the essay to demonstrate knowledge and reveal his or her values as a person.
In the Khazanah essay, one can mention his or her experiences in the extra-curricular activities or academics journey and relate them to the field he or she wants to pursue in the future.
In Arianna’s case, she mentioned her experience moderating Cemerlang’s Career Launchpad Webinar featuring lawyers and their experiences in the profession to showcase her interest in becoming a lawyer.
“You have to use those experiences and show how they have shaped you as a person.”
While it is important to have many experiences from various activities, prioritise sharing those that can show added value to your desired field of study.
Stages 1 and 2
If the scholarship body like what they read, you will make it through to the first stage. In the second stage, you will sit for five online tests on your mathematics, English comprehension as well as your IQ and personality.
Mathematics and English comprehension are pretty straightforward and the IQ test is very similar to Mensa. The most important aspect of the two personality tests is to be truthful with your answers. You do not have to portray yourself as a perfect human being, but show some qualities which you feel strongly about yourself.
“Be your best self, but be truthful”.
Scholarship bodies and their officers have years of experience in evaluating scholarship applicants. You can try to exaggerate your achievements, but they will be able to call you out.
The third stage is an individual interview on competency where the interviewers will ask the applicants questions regarding their experiences. For example, “tell us an experience where you showed a moral value“, “tell us about failures you have faced” and “tell us an experience about you showing integrity”.
The fourth stage is a group interview where the officers will ask only one question. Arianna said that it is not something that you can actually prepare beforehand. During her interview, she was asked to tell them about herself.
Share your ideals, personal traits, and anything at all that can make you stand out from the rest of the applicants. Additionally, structuring your thoughts, and being able to go in-depth in explaining real-world issues is important to show that you genuinely care about what’s happening around you.
Reading news to keep yourself updated with current issues is essential.
The fifth or final stage was another interview where Arianna was grouped with five other applicants to demonstrate her capabilities.
To stand out during the introduction part of the interview, Arianna sang a song in French, Japanese and English. The point was to really mean what she wrote in the last part of her application essay where she explained that her biggest strength is defying social norms.
“Action speaks louder than words”
The interview was followed by critical thinking questions such as “what are key areas that the nation should be investing in for the betterment of society, what course should you take to better help the nation and how we can better balance out environmental sustainability and at the same time managing the industrial progress for our country”.
Questions about the country should be answered carefully so as to not appear to be ideologically too left or right-wing. Be as positive and neutral as possible.
Furthermore, during the group interview, it is important to be a team player. Be professional and respectful to the other applicants by not trying to undermine them in any way.
Simply acknowledge their comments without copying them. It is always good to provide a response, build upon their ideas or even provide a different perspective.
“A team player who can also thrive independetly is the type of person that Yayasan Khazanah wants as their scholar”.
Do you think you have what it takes to become a Yayasan Khazanah scholar?