We sat down with our Year 11 student Yeoh Seng Chuan who has received a full scholarship from Cardiff Sixth Form College. He shared his experience with us about the processes he had to go through and how he got a full scholarship at such a renowned college in the UK.
As your time in SKISS is coming to an end, how do you feel about your past five years here?
Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9) was fun because you get to meet new friends. It was a new experience because I came from a government school which is a Chinese school (SJKC) nearby. The new facilities, the swimming pool, all those were part of the new experience for me. It was quite a good change.
Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11) was quite stressful actually but I think the way the teachers treat us is pretty good because we get to study under a stricter environment so that we get to thrive better academically and push ourselves.
How did you end up applying for your scholarship?
A few years ago, I went for an education fair with my sister. From there, we learnt about all these colleges. At the end of last year, I applied for the scholarship at Cardiff.
Did you receive any other scholarships besides the one from Cardiff?
Yes, I received scholarships from Cardiff Sixth Form College, Oxford International College and Abbey College Cambridge. There are no scholarships for Concord College but I did get accepted.
What was the application process for the scholarships like? Did you have to do any preparation?
Yes, it’s quite an arduous process. First, we need to write a personal statement. Then, we need to get our testimonial done. At SKIS, the testimonial would mostly be done by the teachers, but we had to fill up a table to provide the teachers with the information to write the testimonial. Lastly, I had to do an entrance test.
For Cardiff, I had to sit for four paper tests and one IQ test. The paper tests would be for the subjects that you are going to do in A Levels. I had to know what subjects I am going to take for my A Levels.
Other colleges had different procedures. For Abbey, you have to do a written IQ test and an English test. For Cardiff, the IQ test is on the computer. Oxford International College is the same as Cardiff.
When you were going through the entire application process, did you have to go to the UK? Where was everything done?
I did not have to go to the UK at all. They came to Malaysia. When I applied, it was the time when a lot of application processes were happening so they came to Malaysia anyway so it was a good time for me to apply.
Besides the tests, were there any interviews? What were the interviews like?
It’s really different for each college that I applied for. For Oxford International College, I had an interview but it was more like a casual conversation about what I did and they also introduced me to the school. For Abbey, it was a real interview where they asked questions like what I liked about the school, what I wanted to do in the future, why I wanted to be a doctor and they also wanted to evaluate my determination. For Cardiff, it was more about my achievements in school. They also shared with me how their school is the top in the UK as well as showing me some of their top students. I did pretty well for Cardiff as I’ve been to a summer camp in Cardiff before but that was a separate thing from the application process.
How did you feel about the application process itself?
I find the paper tests more daunting than the interviews. It was two hours for each paper so I had to sit there for eight hours, just writing. I also had to miss school to take those papers.
When you apply for scholarships, do they normally ask you for your co-curricular activities?
The colleges do ask about my co-curricular activities but I find that they are more interested in your academic performance and your motivation and passion for your career. I guess you would need to know what career path you would want to take beforehand as they want to see if you are determined. This is so that you can apply for better universities through their college.
Did you receive any support from anyone in SKIS?
I did receive support from my teachers. They helped me with my testimonial. I wrote a few essays for my CATS College application (which I did not complete as I already received the scholarship offers) and my teachers helped to go through them by checking the grammar, spelling and also giving some ideas on how to improve them. So, they helped me with the application process.
Do you have any message for your teachers and friends in SKIS?
To my friends and juniors, I would advise to apply early but not too early as the paper tests are testing you on your IGCSE knowledge. I applied for mine just after I started my Year 11. That would be a good time to apply. If I’m not mistaken, if you apply around that time, you would still get an early bird discount so it’s quite beneficial. So even if you don’t get a scholarship, you could still get the early bird discount.
My teachers have been quite helpful and I would like to thank them for all the years they’ve helped me. For the past five years, they’ve been part of the process to carve my path and teaching me everything. I would like to highlight my English teacher, Ms Jones who has been very helpful this year and has helped me a lot for my application process. I would also like to highlight my Form Tutor, Ms Yuzie. She has been a moral figure and has been there for me since Year 7. Throughout the years she has provided me with guidance and support.
We here at SKIS would like to congratulate Yeoh Seng Chuan once again for his scholarship and we wish him all the best for his upcoming IGCSEs. We’re so proud of you!