Judging Scholarships

coursesmalaysia.com brings you the details you need to know when applying for a scholarship.

What does the scholarship panel look for in an application? How do they decide who gets the scholarship? coursesmalaysia.com will reveal it all to you. 

There are 3 basic steps used by most scholarship providers to judge an application: 

  1.   Skim and eliminate

  2.   Narrowing down

  3.   Selecting the recipient

Skim and eliminate

There are usually hundreds if not thousands of applications received for a single scholarship. Therefore, more often than not, at this first stage, the applications are not being looked at by the panel. It is usually the office clerk, the secretary or even a volunteer who handles the applications at this stage, before it is passed on to the judging panel.
As each application is opened, a quick check is made. This usually takes about 15-30 seconds. It is here that most applications will be binned. Generally, the first thing that is looked at would be whether or not the applicant meets the basic requirements.
For example, if it's a scholarship for a pre-university course, the applicant must have done the SPM (if SPM is the basic requirement). Age could also be a basic requirement. If the scholarship is open to those aged 20 and below, applications from applicants older than 20 years old will be discarded.

Other things that are looked at include:

  • All fields/questions filled out or answered

  • Reference letters and transcripts attached

  • Photo


  • Scan your application to see if you have left anything out. Make sure you have filled out all the required fields and included copies of all the essential documents.

Narrowing down
Even though you may have achieved excellent academic results, a mediocre application will not help you secure the scholarship. Only the best applications get the most serious consideration. This is the stage where judges separate applications into 2 piles, the 'meets requirements' pile and 'should be considered' pile. You should aim to get into the 'should be considered' pile.
Your application must stand out from hundreds of others to get serious consideration from the judges. Keep an eye out for careless spelling and grammatical errors. These errors will give judges the impression that you were not bothered to spell-check and they'd usually reciprocate, by not reading it.

  • Judges have to go through hundreds of applications; one spelling or typo error will cause yours to be put away. So check and double check your application before submitting it!
  • Let the judges know you through your application and tell them why you deserve that scholarship. However, be careful not to sound too proud about it.

Selecting the recipient

Often described as the most difficult part of the process by the judges, it is at this stage where the scholarship recipient is decided. The remaining applications are all highly qualified and each judge will already have picked out his or her favourite. The only way to do the final selection is to examine and compare every single detail.

Some questions that may be used to evaluate an application include:

  1. Why is this student better than the others?

  2. Why does he or she deserve the scholarship?

  3. What is the future potential of success for this student?

Judges also pay special and close heed to the following factors:

  1. Academic results

  2. Leadership ability

  3. Extracurricular activities

  4. Creativity

  5. Circumstances

There are cases where there are 2-3 applications that are very similar and there is no clear winner. The judges will then look at the applicant's personal statement. Write a personal statement that 'talks' to the judges and let your personality shine through.