Get Organised! aids you step-by-step on how to organise your certificates and documents before applying for scholarships.

It's never too early to get started organising your certificates and important documents, especially if you plan to apply for scholarships. Don't wait till the last minute to look for those important documents!

Over the course of 11-12 years of school, you're going to be collecting a lot of documents − certificates, exam results, letters of appreciation and so on. Make sure you know where all your important papers are to make it easier when you start your scholarship applications.

Step 1: Prepare a storage space for everything

Get a sturdy plastic document case. Label it 'IMPORTANT' and write your name on it. Prepare a safe place to keep it that you won't forget where it is when you need it.

Step 2: Put everything in that one place

As you receive documents from school and other activities throughout the year, put them into your document case. Don't worry about arranging them at this point. The important thing is to make sure that everything is in one place.

Step 3: Arrange documents by date

Start by arranging certificates, letters, photos, report cards etc by the year that you got them. After that, arrange them by importance. You may want to set aside a couple of hours for this. (You can ask your school career counsellor for help with this part too.)

Step 4: Make certified copies of important documents

This is a very important point. When you are applying for college, university, scholarships etc, you will be asked to submit certified copies of documents such as your IC, birth certificate, PMR/SPM results certificates and so on. Never send the originals!

Step 5: Get English translations of your exam certificates (optional)

You can get an official English translation of your exam certificates − needed for applying for foreign scholarships and universities − from the Malaysia Examinations Syndicate (Lembaga Peperiksaan Negara or LPN). Make certified copies of these too.

A certified copy is a photocopy of a document that has been verified as true by a duly appointed government official, usually a Commissioner of Oaths. You will need to pay a small fee for this service, normally around RM20. You will need your parents or an adult guardian to help you with this, so arrange this with them in advance in case they need to take the day off to take you to the commissioner's office.

You must present both the original and photocopied documents to the Commissioner of Oaths so that he or she can inspect the copies to confirm that they are true and unaltered. The commissioner will then put an official stamp on the photocopies, and date and sign them.

It's a good idea to make several sets of copies of your documents and get them certified all at once so that you don't have to find a Commissioner of Oaths every time you need to get something certified.

Step 5: Keep a backup

Keep one set of certified copies of your most important documents (especially your IC, birth certificate and exam result certificates) in a separate place from the originals. This way you can ensure that in case you ever lose any of the originals, you have a backup which will make it easier for you to get replacements.