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After ASEAN

So of course, this blog is dedicated to talking about the ASEAN Secondary and Pre-University scholarships, but we all know that life doesn't just end after your A Levels or IB. The all important question for those who are thinking big and thinking far is: where can you go after ASEAN? (technically, where can you go after your ASEAN scholarship tenure ends? but that would kill the poetic alliterative feel right there. lol.) And based on true stories from various ASEAN scholars I know and my own story, I will attempt to provide a rough idea of where you can go after ASEAN.

If you had bothered reading the introduction page, you would know that I am currently in the midst of transiting to the next phase of my education - university. When I started this blog in January 2012, I myself had no idea where I would be heading, or where my other ASEAN scholar friends would be heading, so I held off writing this post. But now, in April 2012, university offers have streamed in, and most of us know roughly where we might be headed to, so I'm much more confident of sharing this page with you than I was before.

Ok, enough of my monologue. So: Where can you go after ASEAN?

The simple answer really, is: EVERYWHERE!

I shall split this post into three parts:
1) Staying in Singapore
2) Going overseas (UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, France, Zimbabwe...)
3) Going back to Malaysia

1) Staying in Singapore
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that this is the most often-opted choice for ASEAN Scholars. (I don't have actual statistics. This is a conclusion based purely on observation.) Contrary to what some nay-sayers of the ASEAN Scholarship has said, most scholars choose to stay in Singapore on their own accord, and are not "betrayers" of their country nor have they been "brainwashed" by the PAP government and hypnotized to stay here forcefully. (lawls, please give our independent spirits and minds some credibility here.)

There are many reasons why staying in Singapore is attractive to many people:
  • If you were a secondary/pre-u ASEAN scholar and you had done reasonably well within MOE's criteria, and had gained admission into any one of the five public universities in Singapore (NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, YNC), you would be eligible to be awarded the ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship which will fund your university! (Note: This scholarship comes with a two-year bond, unlike the Secondary and Pre-U one.)
    • Note: You will have to gain entrance into the universities on your own merit before being considered for the ASEAN-Undergraduate Scholarship. Not all Pre-U scholars who gain admission automatically get the scholarship. It depends on whether you meet the given academic criteria dished out by MOE for your year or not.
    • Note 2: YNC is a super exciting opportunity to pioneer a new university with a new education model in this part of the world! Do check it out! It opens in 2013.
  • The universities are very highly ranked in the world! NUS is ranked #28 in the world and #3 in Asia! (source:  http://www.usnews.com/education/worlds-best-universities-rankings/top-400-universities-in-the-world?page=2)
  • It is still close to home. (Easy/cheap to travel back and forth for holidays)
  • Scholars, after a few years of education in Singapore, decide on their own that they like this place, and would like to continue furthering their education and future here! It's safe, it's cosmopolitan, it's clean, it's near enough to other Asian countries to travel during breaks, the people who don't use Stomp.sg (go check it out, it's like the ultimate Singapore gossip site - full of people with nothing better to do than to take pictures of students holding hands in public. =.=) are nice.. plenty of reasons to like Singapore after you've experienced it for yourself!
2) Going Overseas
While I kid about Zimbabwe, I personally know peers and seniors who have gone on to study in all of the other countries I listed out above after finishing up their Pre-University education in Singapore. I, myself, am taking this route. The Singapore-Cambridge GCE A Levels is recognized and highly regarded in most countries. This is the same for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Having either of these qualifications thus enables us to all be geographically mobile in terms of education. It goes without saying that if your Pre-U results were horrible terrible vegetable, your chances of obtaining admission to universities worldwide would be harder regardless of the type of education you receive in Singapore.

Just sampling from the scholars in my batch and one batch above mine, these are some of the universities my peers and seniors have gained admission into: Harvard, Yale, UPenn, Brown, UCLA, Swarthmore, Middlebury, UCL, Kings College London, LSE, Oxford, ANU, University of Melbourne/Sydney, Hong Kong University, University of Tokyo, University of British Columbia, and many many many many more! And these are just from two batches of scholars!

A very important note regarding Malaysian Scholarships
For those of you who plan to get a Malaysian scholarship to fund their overseas education, listen up carefully. If your dream is to get the JPA/Bank Negara/Sime Darby/Axiata/Khazanah etc etc scholarship, you may want to think very carefully before taking up the ASEAN Scholarship. Many of my peers (and myself) have found ourselves ineligible for these scholarships because we do not have a SPM Malay or equivalent grade - which is a core requirement of many scholarships. Unless they change their policies in the near future, it doesn't matter if you scored full As during your A Levels in Singapore or got a perfect score for IB, you are simply ineligible. 

That said, you are also ineligible for Singapore scholarships as a core requirement for these scholarships is for your to either be a Singaporean citizen or PR. Some of us were offered PR-ship, and hence qualified in time for scholarships. But for many males, obtaining either would mean a mandatory two year stint in National Service.

Edit: A friend of mine, who took Higher Malay at O Levels and Malay at IB, and who obtained A1 and 7points respectively, tells me this: that even if she did take Malay at O levels and IB, Malaysian scholarship boards have told her that her A1 and 7 points do not equate/are sub-par to a SPM Pass in Malay. Hence rendering her ineligible for Malaysian scholarships as well. Bummer.

3) Going back to Malaysia
While I personally don't know anyone that has gone this route, the option is available to those who choose to! Most Malaysian public universities accept the A Levels as a form of entry requirement for their undergraduate programmes. But please do check out the individual universities for verification. Scholars can also opt to study in a private Malaysian university, which usually accepts most forms of pre-university education as their entry requirement.

Why do few scholars choose this path? For some, it's because they chose to take Chinese as their mother tongue language instead of Malay in Singapore, rendering them ineligible for entry as some universities require at least a good pass in SPM Malay or equivalent. For others, well, your guess is as good as mine!


  • Edit: An anonymous commentor provided this as a reason: that many Malaysian public universities do not accept the A Levels as an entry requirement for prospective Malaysian students. I, myself, have heard the rumour before, but am not too sure about the degree of truth in it. :) As usual, it's up to you to check the respective university websites yourself! 

48 comments:

  1. You might want to take note that most Public Universities in Malaysia do not recognise A-Lvls for prospective Malaysian candidates.

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    1. Hi Anonymous, thank you for your comment. Yes I thought I remember hearing rumours about Public Universities not accepting A Levels and had initially included that in my post. But as I went to check out the requirements from various unis, such as USM (http://www.usm.my/index.php/en/information/prospective-students/193-full-time-study-programmes-first-degree.html) and UM (http://www.um.edu.my/mainpage.php?module=Maklumat&kategori=47&id=175&papar=1), they all state that they accept "STPM or Equivalent" results, which I assume includes the A Levels.

      Not 100% sure though, so I'll update my post! Thanks!

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    2. I went to a public university ( way back in the mid 90s), public universities since as long as I can remembered had always listed they accept A levels, but we rarely see A- level students. We believed because competition was so stiff, the STPM students would have filled up all the quota first. If you looked at the requirement carefully, the grades they required was rather low too; students admitted had far far far better grades. I personally knew someone who got into an extremely competitive course through A-levels ( he took the ASEAN too), but that was through second intake, when someone did not took up the offer and a spot was vacant...( This was way back in mid-90s. Things might have changed)

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    3. Those days, there were unofficial statistics compiled to guide prospective public U students, which course in which U their grades have the best "chances" to get in. The statistics will break the students from the previous admission into universities, courses, grades, ( even whether student from peninsula or sabah/sarawak) and of course ethnicity. If these statistics were still being compiled, you can probably check if there were A-level students in the midst....

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  2. "For those of you who plan to get a Malaysian scholarship to fund their overseas education, listen up carefully. If your dream is to get the JPA/Bank Negara/Sime Darby/Axiata/Khazanah etc etc scholarship, you may want to think very carefully before taking up the ASEAN Scholarship. Many of my peers (and myself) have found ourselves ineligible for these scholarships because we do not have a SPM Malay or equivalent grade"
    Surely for students who apply for Asean Pre-U scholarship, they would have taken their SPM exams. After completing the 2 year Asean Pre-U A level, can they still apply for those above scholarships?

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    1. yes, i have heard of past pre-u scholars who did get JPA undergraduate scholarships to overseas universities. but do take note that this happened over 5 years ago. i haven't heard of any similar cases in recent years. maybe scholarship providers have changed their eligibility criteria.

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    2. Yes, it is possible. The most recent case happened last year. Go to check out JPA Ivy League Dan Setara. If you can't find it on their site, then call them, if they do not answer, go to Putrajaya to find them.

      Do take note however, if you do not have SPM, it might be harder.

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  3. Is it a MUST to stay in Singapore and work for the government?

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    1. For the secondary/pre-u scholarship: no, because it is a bond-free scholarship.

      For the undergraduate scholarship: no. but you will have to work for three years in a singapore REGISTERED company. it doesn't necessarily have to be with the government neither does it mean it has to be in Singapore (though that is usually the case).

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  4. Will they give us scholar to go overseas? I mean, I am not that rich so I was just wondering :)

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    1. Sorry, I don't fully understand your question, but I'm assuming you're asking if Singapore gives existing ASEAN scholars scholarships to go overseas post pre-university?

      If so, the answer is no. In most cases, you will have to be a Singapore PR or citizen to apply for overseas undergraduate scholarships from the Singaporean government/Singaporean companies.

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    2. There are bodies such as Economic Development Board, GIC and a few more. But more often than not, taking these scholarships would sort of obligate you to either become a PR or give up your existing citizenship to become a Singaporean

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  5. Do you know any ASEAN scholar that get scholarship after A-Levels to World Top Universities like Cambridge?

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    1. There may be, but I personally don't know any who are on scholarships (excluding fa-ma scholarships) to top universities in the UK, like Cambridge, like you specifically mentioned.

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    2. Yes, ASTAR to Imperial. In any case, scholarship and university admission are entirely separate process, you might secure good admission but can't get scholarship, or you may have a scholarship but rejected by your dream school. Either way, if you have secured a Singapore/Malaysia scholarship, they will be more than happy to send you to Cambridge.

      If you do decently in your A levels, you will most likely get NUS Undergraduate Scholarship, most people are too attracted by this to apply for anything else.

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    3. Yes. Myself and two other ASEAN Scholars received full scholarships to pursue medicine, engineering and economics in the UK (Cambridge, Cambridge, LSE). However, I do not think that that scholarship (MTC Foundation Scholarship) continues to be offered.

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  6. I will be taking my PMR (form 3) this year and intend to apply for Asean Secondary Scholarship. If all goes well, does that mean I will be in Secondary 3 in 2014? (as I understand from MOE website). Assuming that i take O levels and results are not good or,what happens? Or academic results down at some point. Will I be sent home?

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    1. You are correct.

      Um, well if you do not do well enough to qualify for entry into a Junior College (2 Year A level Program or IB program), your scholarship will be revoked. You may stay on in Singapore to pursue other academic pre-u tracks, but you will not be on the scholarship scheme anymore.

      If you don't do well during your school terms (i.e. not O levels but term exams) for the first time, a warning letter will be issued to you. If you do not do well again the subsequent time, then your scholarship will be revoked/changed to a merit scholarship instead depending on the situation.

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    2. Thanks you for your prompt reply. Sounds a little scary.

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  7. What do the scholars do on weekends? Are they free to spend time outside of the hostel?

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    1. Yes, definitely. You can study, visit other parts of Singapore or do anything else. There may be curfew at night (depending on your hostel/boarding school) but you are free to pursue your own interest during weekends.

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  8. U said students before you batch got admission into these top universities. However did they receive any kind of scholarships?
    Also, admission into US top universities requires students to take SAT where Asean Scholarship only offer GCE A-level. Please tell me how they got these admission. Also can you please explain more on the cocuricullum activities as a Asean Scholar here. Tks alot and i hope for you quick reply.

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    1. Some of them did, some of them did not.

      SATs are taken outside of regular school time. The student who wishes to study in the US will have to make time to study for the SATs on his/her own self. US universities consider the SATs as well as the A-Level/IB results, and not the SATs alone.

      The extra curricular activities available to ASEAN scholars are the same as those available to local Singaporean students. They differ from school to school.

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  9. Also one more question. U said ur taking the overseas pathway. So, how are you doing now?

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  10. Can you please tell me an estimated number of students who got admitted into the ivy league?

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  11. Sorry for asking this question, but do you know the acceptance rates of students who apply for this scholarship?

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  12. Hi there. Thanks for the really valuable information :) I have just received the asean pre-u scholarship offer letter and after reading this, I guess I'll be going :D I'm Malaysian too!

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  13. Hi, in terms of relativity, wld our Malaysian Asean scholars fared well in the Singaporean education system? Given that most kids in S'pore goes for tuition, how do you keep up with the pace ?
    I heard the A level is relatively tough. Based on your observation, do you see most Malaysian Asean scholars getting good enough grades to gain entry into universities in S'pore for good courses e.g pharmacies, engineering, accountancy and etc.

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    1. I struggle to answer this question because I cannot possibly speak for everyone's individual experiences.

      As for me, I had struggled with my Higher Chinese in O Levels, and had gone for tuition for two months before my exam to expose myself to more practices and pull my grades up in time. Apart from that, I found everything else pretty manageable. I took the IBs instead of A Levels, and the other Malaysian scholars in my year who took the IBs with me did very well.

      As for A Levels, after hearing other friends who took that route instead, there are scholars who struggle to keep up for A Levels. Some end up having their scholarship taken away from them in JC. That being said however, I do know many scholars who do eventually pull through and go on to get good enough grades for all the courses you have mentioned..

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    2. Hi, TQ so much for your response. Appreciate yr insights and sharings. BTW, I read abt SAP schools in S'pore which focuses on Chinese Literature and Culture. But does that mean they put less emphasis on Science and Maths related subjects? Thanks in advance.

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  14. Hi, am I eligible for the Malaysian scholarships like jpa/simedarby/... to study overseas if I sit for spm before getting the ASEAN preU scholarship to study A levels in Singapore?

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. Hi, i wanna ask you about list of school and the hostel. Do you know?

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  17. Hi, thanks for your very informative and comprehensive blog!
    I am just wondering, as my family is not very financially well-off, are there any scholarships that I can apply for if I plan to pursue my studies overseas (like UK)? Thanks a bunch!

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  18. Hi I'm an SPM leaver who is considering this scholarship. Just wondering if the Singapore A levels is the as the Cambrige Cie one in Malaysia.

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    1. Nope, the Singapore-Cambridge A Levels is different from CIE A Levels and the Edexcel A Levels that most Malaysians are familiar with back home. For the Singapore A Levels, the syllabus differs from CIE or Edexcel where topics studied may differ. The Singapore A Levels is administered by Singapore's MOE and Singapore Examination and Assessment Board (SEAB) in collaboration with Cambridge and therefore, they have the right to tweak the curriculum which would result in the syllabus differing from CIE and Edexcel.

      For more information, you may want to look up the syllabus outline online at SEAB's website. They are easily accessible.

      Feel free to email me at jimmyteoh96@hotmail.com if you have any other inquiries. I would most probably be able to answer your questions as I was a Merit Scholar for the ASEAN Scholarship.

      On a side note, this blog may no longer be active since 2014 as the author no longer replies to comments from what I observe perhaps due to her being busy. If you would want response for your question, check if the blog is active next time =)

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  19. Does anybody receive the letter from the MOE that calls those short-listed candidates for the selection test for AY2016 Asean Scholarship for Malaysia?

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    1. Yes I just received the letter.

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  20. Thanks for the valuable info. Much appreciated.
    I just get informed by MOE to sit for this upcoming asean PREU scholarship selection text at woodgrove secondary school. May I know what preparation can I do for this selection test? I know it's to late to say that but I really want to do something for this selection test. Like is there any reference book related that I can get?

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  21. Hello everyone! Good luck to all who are applying this year!! I noticed that there has been a lot of traffic and need for a good place for conversation between applicants and present/past scholars. So I have created a forum tab which you can find on the top and side of any page in this blog. :) I hope you will have more conversation there and I will try to answer as many as I can as well! :D - Klarissa

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  22. Hello! Now I'm applying for the sec3 scholarship and they do not clarify me that how many year will I be studying can I ask you how many year will it be?

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  23. Did we have a chance to continue studying in malaysia after pre-u scholarship?

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  24. Yes, only at private universities that recognises A - levels.

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  25. Hi there! I applied for the ASEAN undergraduate scholarship for SMU. Unfortunately I have not heard from SMU if I received the ASEAN. This scholarship is crucial for me in financing my education, but decisions come out as late as August. It would help me a lot to know if there are any indicators as to whether I will receive or not receive this scholarship ahead of time. May I know when you got your decision, and how you were notified?

    THANK YOU.

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  26. Hi, as Asean scholar for A level, how hard or easy a commerce student can get Accounting course in Singapore univeristy?

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