MARA Scholarship Interview Experience

Eligible to apply for the MARA SPIP program? Say no more, you're one of the luckiest guys in the nation. The bumiputra scholarship has been on the checklist of many since graduating from high school, or so they say - as a last resort. MARA has been the leading statutory corporation in securing the future of many Malaysian young future leaders. Many would not waste the very chance of pursuing their dream ambitions in world-renowned universities around the globe, let alone courses like medic and architecture which many GLC scholarships do not endorse for their respective programmes in the recent years. So how does MARA conduct their interview? The best part is the fact that MARA conducts their interview in a single stage only for the overseas candidates whereas those who applied for the local program don't have an interview at all.

So let's talk about the part where both local and abroad candidates would undertake which is the MARA rigorous Aptitude Test. Let's not be hasty, the MARA test is quite decent compared to the tests being conducted by Yayasan Khazanah, PNB, Maybank and so on (yes I've taken them all and it's right for me to judge, and hell, it's my opinion anyways). Unlike what the premier scholarships would ask you to do, MARA inevitably put your next 30 minutes into a mind-boggling session , having to untangle typical IQ questions to scale down your level of thinking from a 10 to none. Aside from that, prior to being a MARA scholar (after all), you must have some basic knowledge of the board and history behind MARA - since the establishment of RIDA to its current state. Well honestly you don't have to know all of them, just go through their website and you'll be fine, trust me. By the way, here're some tips for you to actually excel the Aptitude Test with ease:

  1. Have a decent amount of thinking level, practice on online IQ tests (pm me for details)
  2.  Go through the MARA website as deep as you can. Know their other corporations and the companies that run under them aside from at least identify a glimpse of the details on their board members.
  3. Do not, I repeat do not get, borrow or buy your form 4 / form 5 Sejarah textbook. Rumours had it that it would be freaking helpful well it's not, it's damn not. You'll just fill up your table like when you're doing your Sejarah Paper 3 SPM paper.
  4. Prepare a few pieces of paper and pen, a pencil is notably acceptable too.
  5. Google is your best friend. 

The last tip is the utmost important, trust me, anything that you do not know or do not have any keen sagacity in it, just google it out, just like how you googled the word 'sagacity' just now. It's a fair game for you since:

  1. There is no restriction saying you CANNOT GOOGLE.
  2. It's the damn same thing as asking your parents, friends, and siblings, where apart from doing some thing tank for you, they might just google it up in the end.
  3. It's not cheating unless it's stated that you cannot Google or search for information up in the net.

And here's a famous problem that occurred during my time when the MARA online test was conducted, the timer for your session has started, but the server won't start. Well here's a shoutout to my friend Syed Abdul Rahman (who got an offer to KYSB but rejected it) for he's the one who unravel this silly problem. All you got to do is email MARA about the problem and they'll try to tackle the problem as soon as possible. They're humans too, so chances are if the time is like 40 minutes passed your actual starting time, most probably, the very time you start is your new starting time, so no need to fret and just be thankful for once that you manage the qualification stage to at least undergo the test and the interview. Some may not even succeed this level, but they are up for second chances because there'll be an appealing box for those who do not. We'll talk about this in the section far below after I talk about how the interview will be held.

So here comes the interview session. The interview will be conducted at various places across the country since MARA candidates for the interview itself is already massive not just in Semenanjung, but think Sabah and Sarawak. Mine was conducted in Kolej MARA Banting or MARA College Banting or KMB or KM Banting or whatever you want to call it - this is my alma mater for 2 years anyways. Aside from being the number one IB World School in Malaysia, the place reminds me a lot about KI. Both are premier institutes in education for their respective programs (or say examination) - but then both have very old and worn out facilities. The lockers and bunkers in KMB still have the 'MRSM' seal on it which shows that these items date back to 1992; that's like almost 24 years or something if my mathematics is correct. Well, enough of the KMB experience, we can talk about this later, let's get back to the main point yes.

So what's the fun part of the MARA scholarship (read: eduloan)? Well for a first, you don't need to put on your ties and suits, not even your work shoes, and for the girls, no need to find that matching tudung for your baju kurung. Because all you'll ever be needing is a collared t-shirt, a tracking suit and any sports shoes that you think goes together with your outfit, oh, and a tudung for the ladies who wore them. All and all, wear your best sports attire that does not portray your high school image, badge or whatsoever relatable. That's one of the prime rule stated by MARA through the sms that all the candidates had received. I spent a night before the interview in a budget hotel located 20 minutes away from the college with my parents. Apparently, I was working as a freelance photographer back then and it was on my schedule that I had an event photo shoot amidst the city of Banting the same night before the interview. It was horrendously exhausting the moment I reached the hotel and so I hit the sack the very time I changed my clothes.

So the interview day arrived, and time was showing seven thirty in the morning with only a few minutes more to spare before the interview session begins. I came arriving at what seems to be a big space front of the college hall with seconds before the conductor ordered the candidates to enter the grand hall. We were segregated into two primary courses, the medic candidates, and the assorted candidates (applied science, accounting, & God knows what). And then from the two large groups of candidates, we were further divided into small groups of 8 (if I'm not mistaken) in lines. At the far front of our lines would be the tables for all of us to submit the documents that MARA had asked us to do so. They don't want your co-curricular certificates but just what they stated in the myeduloan website so you don't have to go through all the trouble bringing them extra documents in files which would most probably weigh the hell out of your shoulders. Bear in mind, do arrive early or you'll regret it if you are to be considered a part of the second session. Simply put, the second session will start only after the first session wholly ends their interview, and that'll sum up to plenty and plenty of extra waiting hours.

The next part, your group of 8 will be brought towards either LT1 or LT2. It's kind of a waiting theatre room where your group mates would most probably be starting to ask, "anyone knows what the heck is applied science?", or "what course did you get for the interview?", or maybe a simple "hi, what school are you from?". So the how's and why's and what's would usually accumulate in this period of time, which is kind of short to be exact, but it's an excellent bonding time so make the best out of it. After plenty of waiting minutes, a committee in charge lead us to a room where the first interview will be conducted. The room was air-conditioned and prior to entering the room, we were ordered to let go of anything but a pen. With that, we stepped our ways forward towards the three interviewers whom seemingly looked quite intimidating in one way or another. They briefed us quick about what should be done and the next second we knew it, the clock has started. We were separated into two different teams of 4 so it was obvious that we were up against each other. The task was a standard brainstorming situation on a given case study. The case study was a common one and unusually need much thinking in settling it. So my team settled down on the floor and each other throwing out their fresh ideas. Here are some tips for surviving this particular stage:

  1. Participate and participate! The interviewers will here and there come to the teams to evaluate how the team cooperates with each other. Someone nominating themselves as a leader is okay to ensure things don't go haywire but the important part is you! Unless you're the leader, showing a decent amount of teamwork would be just fine.
  2. Do not overshadow your other teammates, you're in as a team, you come out as a team too. 
  3. Speak loudly during the presentation time, this shows your inner confident.
  4. Have fun! 

After the first session ended, we were then brought into a unique room called the 'cabin' (I figured this out after entering the college). The second session is all about fun and games, no more tension being put, but see it as a normal ice breaking session in an orientation session of a programme. I couldn't say more about this session because then it would be the ultra obvious of what we did, but then again you might discover about it on someone's blog post or Facebook post or snapchat story perhaps (?).

Anyways, the MARA scholarship interview is all about fun, relax and ease being put together in one single main frame. As lethargic as it might sound, it's the complete opposite of the other premier scholarships interview that you (might most probably) had been to like YK's or UEM's and (not PNB though, they conducted their way too late) Bank Negara's. Most of those GLC companies are looking for their future employees instead of just their scholars whereas MARA doesn't have an agreement for their scholars to be bonded to the company prior to graduating (and that's the best part of em all). So break a leg and have fun!

Salman Faris

An IB survivor from Kolej MARA Banting and now drawing swords to face the ordeals of Pure Mathematics at King's College London.

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