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Old 03-04-2010, 02:34 AM   #1
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Default Short guide to application & interviews

It’s the time of the year again!

For the A-level students, judgment day is approaching and for the Poly students, it must have been a hectic month submitting application for universities. Going for open houses, choosing courses and writing essays for university applications etc. are no menial tasks. And beyond all of these, if you are confident of your results, there’s the scholarship applications and interviews.

Like most of you, I was also surfing websites, Brightsparks, reading Scholars’ Choice, trying to fill applications and prepare for this. I had been through numerous interviews and written tests from PSC, ministries, private sectors. Yet, due to the competitiveness, few are willing to share their experiences online. This ‘guide’ is simply based on MY OWN experiences and for your personal reference only. Any criticisms that you read in this guide, are in no way any form of badmouthing any scholarship organization. There were ups and downs in the process and I am just here to share. Constructive criticisms and contributions are greatly appreciated. Here’s a brief summary:

STEP 1: Preparing the Resume and/or Portfolio

STEP 2: Filling in the application form

Resume & Portfolio
Half the battle is won if you know and understand yourself.

This is a tedious start but one of the most important steps because it is a good time to recall all your past achievements, memories and see your own strength and weaknesses. For most people, having been through the JC or polytechnic system does not necessary prepare you for this. Fortunately for me, one of my business modules required us to write our resumes and ’sell ourselves’. Collating a good resume and portfolio is a MUST because you would eventually need it in the future (I used it to apply for my overseas exchange program). Further more, if you do it now, it would be easier in the future because you can simply add on to what you currently have. Here’s what I do:

1. Search & Locate all your certificates, awards, results, testimonials, CCA records, art work etc.

Make sure they are original copies because you would only need to submit photocopies for universities and scholarship organizations. Some organizations or universities have a process to “certify true copies” where they would look at your original copy and then put a stamp or signature on the photocopies. Arrange them nicely into a file – I use the one that musicians carry for music scores. I start with academic results (Diploma, O level etc) and then academic awards. Then CCA awards or certificates. Lastly the CCA transcript and testimonials.

2. Scan all your originals

Some recruitment websites or scholarship websites require soft copies. Scan in everything and put them into a folder. I label it RESUME so it contains all my portfolio, certificates etc.

3. Photocopy 3 sets (at least!) [+ NRIC + Passport + Birth Certificate]

Once you’ve gotten them all ready, send them for photocopying. Make sure you include your NRIC, Passport and Birth Certificate (yes some organizations asked for Birth Cert!) I photocopy my parents and siblings NRIC and student pass as well.

Keep one set as back-up. Use this set only for photocopying so that you do not have to pull out the originals one by one again.

Keep the 2nd set for emergency (when you can’t find a photocopying shop) or when the organization ask you for a set of photocopies during the interview unexpectedly.

Send out the 3rd set. I’m sure when you are applying for universities or scholarships, you send more than 3. Keep 3 in your file at any one time. Trust me, better to be prepared than sorry.

4. Passport photos

Take a lot a lot of them! You’d be amazed how many you send out. And make sure the photos are good looking. I gave up using the instant photo booth. Instead, I used a digital camera and take a self portrait (as many times as I wish until the photo comes out fine) and then print it out on photo paper. The quality is equally good.

5. Photographs!

I tend to highlight several key CCA achievements. As your CCA record is probably pretty long and it is SO unjustified that they summarize it into one word, I inserted some photographs. For example, my visits to elderly homes, newspaper cuttings, overseas trips etc. During interviews, if they ask a question that I can relate to my CCA achievements, I would flip to the page and show them the picture. Picture speaks a thousand words and the interviewers would certainly be more impressed (I think).

6. Typing your resume

A resume is a summarized record of your expertise, skills, education and experience. I keep mine to 2 pages.

Remember that this is a summary! Put only what you think would impress the person who reads it. Personally, I think it says a lot about a person if his/ her resume only includes e.g. a participation in a story-telling competition; a chemistry rep; a merit in primary school math olympiad (again, I’m just listing these as examples, nothing against these achievements). My point is, listing such records would pale in comparison to someone with YEP exposure, President of a club, National champion of a sport. It screams “I have no other achievements except these!” or “I want to make my resume look good by making it long!” Personally, I tend to go for quality.

For guys, remember to insert your enlistment date, ORD date and status.

After getting through ALL THESE, you’re done for step one! Yes, this is just the beginning but remember, you would have to do it sooner or later. Might as well do it now. Having gone through all your certificates and awards, I’m sure it jolted your memories and jumpstarted the process of self-discovery.

Now it’s time to tackle the application forms!

Those dreaded forms!
Filling up most of it is easy but tedious, that’s all. So do spend some time and be careful not to have typo error or false information. Generally I did not face much difficulties with the forms, except for one. It was by a particular bank and the formatting for the word document was really terrible! When I type something, the next line goes lower and weird things happen to the document, argh!

Type it out

I prefer to save the document on my desktop and then type it out before I print out the form. Makes the form cleaner and more legible.

Keep a copy! Save & Print

This is important because there must be a back up. Moreover, the interviewer may ask you about something you wrote in the application form or essay. It happened to me in one of the interviews and my first thought was “Did I write that?!” and then realized that he mis-interpreted what I was trying to say in the essay. I have to admit my English isn’t excellent.


Some application forms comes with a checklist so do remember to go through everything. Get a friend to check for you.

Nice, clean A4 envelope.

Buy them, I prefer not to fold the application forms and photocopies. Use paper clip and dry glue, those admin people handling your application forms would thank you.


This is the toughest part. If the organization ask for a specific essay that relates to that industry, you need to do research. I can’t advise or help you much with that.

However, there are some general questions usually asked:
What is your personal philosophy in life? Talk about a past event/ issue that has significant impact on your life. Talk about a person who has a great impact on your life.

My advice is to be as honest as possible while bearing in mind that the essay has to ’sell’ yourself. So when you describe your philosophy or past issues, I would not write one that would put me in a bad light. Simple common sense. You may talk about a struggle and how you overcome it. That’s also fine I guess. I have a friend who wrote about his ice-cream selling days and how he was chased by a dog but he learnt so much from that job. It was such an interesting read!

I tend to avoid the last question about the ‘person’ who influence you because it would likely be your dad, mom or teacher. I did think of people like Bill Gates or some public figure but it would seem too far-fetch. You can try, just not my personal style. If possible I avoid this question.

Keep the essays that you write! Especially the generic question ones because they may come in handy in the future. I just re-used one of the essay and modify it a little sometimes.

After sending out those forms, it is time to chill because the processing time can take a few weeks! I hope the guide has been useful in some way or another. Once again, the issues mentioned above are purely my own stance and experiences and do not represent any organization or any other person. This guide is done purely out of goodwill and fun. =)

Last edited by hyperterra; 07-24-2012 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:44 PM   #2
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wow thks for the guide. looking forward to the rest of it...
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:40 PM   #3
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hyperterra please read your PM. Thanks

What I say is my OWN opinion
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:27 PM   #4
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Thanks for your information. Actually I have an interview phobia. So, Whenever I was going for interview I was really afraid of such kind of things. Might be your information will work.
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Old 12-13-2013, 04:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for the information!
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:20 PM   #6
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Any downloadable files that can get from here?
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Old 02-05-2018, 12:41 PM   #7
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Thank you hyperterra!!
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Old 03-18-2018, 09:40 PM   #8
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Thanks for the excellent guide
Maths Tuition Website:

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