Introduction

Welcome! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Simple decision, great consequences

Now, I am a JPA scholar studying Medicine at Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed Malaysia). Actually, it is an important decision that I made in the past which enables me to get the JPA scholarship now.
Last time, I took 10 subjects for my SPM. I chose Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as my 10th subject because it is a Science subject and is studied in English. However, many students in my school chose Prinsip Perakaunan as their 10th subject. In the beginning, ICT seemed to be an easy subject. The (almost) complete SPM ICT reference book had less than 100 pages, and its size is smaller than other SPM reference books. Therefore, we did not have to study a lot for ICT. The exam questions also looked quite direct. 
However, all ICT students in my school were shocked when the SPM 2010 results were released in March 2011, because no one in our school got A+ for ICT, and only a few students got A or A-. Worst of all, we later heard the news that no student in the whole Malaysia got A+ for ICT in SPM 2010. Many ICT students including me were worried about that. As a result, many students dropped ICT after Form 4. 
But, I did not consider dropping ICT. Since ICT is a subject where we can make full preparation for it, I was confident that as long as I fully understand it I would be able to get A+ in SPM. A few of my friends advised me to drop ICT. They said that it was very risky for me to take ICT since my target at that time was to get 10A+ in SPM. I did not listen to their advice and I insisted on taking ICT in SPM.
At last, I successfully got A+ for ICT in SPM. Instead, out of my expectation I did not get A+ for English. Overall, I got 9A+ and 1A for my SPM. With that, I could get the MOE Bursary which covered my A Level since the requirement to get the MOE Bursary is 9A+ or above in SPM. Since I was a Bursary student, I was automatically offered the JPA scholarship after I completed A Level and met the requirements for JPA scholarship. 
Thinking back, if I dropped ICT last time, things will be completely different now. Without ICT, I would only take 9 subjects in SPM and my results would be 8A+ and 1A, which would not qualify me for the MOE Bursary. Consequently, I would have to apply for JPA scholarship as a non-Bursary student, which would require me to go through interviews and there is no guarantee of getting it. Since my interview skills is not very good, it is likely that I would not get the JPA scholarship.
Sometimes, a simple decision which seems to be very small can actually have a great effect on your life. So, always think carefully before making a decision. When you have decided on something, just go for it and don't let others influence you, because only you know what is best for yourself.
Hope everyone will learn something from my story. Thanks for reading this.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

My A2 Level Examination

I sat for the A2 Level examination in the May 2014. A2 Level is the second half of A Level. I studied A Level at Taylor's College Subang Jaya. The A2 Level examination contributes half of the marks for the overall A Level results. The other half comes from the AS Level examination which I took in October 2013. I took 4 subjects for A Level, which were Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. My A2 Level examination was from 9 May 2014 to 22 May 2014.

This is my diary for every day during the examination.

2 May 2014 (Friday):
This was my last day of normal college before the A2 Level examination started. After college, I had lunch with my friends at Ha Ha Pan Mee Shop. After returning home, I did revision for the examination.

3 May 2014 (Saturday) to 7 May 2014 (Wednesday):
There were no college during the 5 days. I spent most of my time doing revision for Biology Paper 4 and Chemistry Paper 4. I did past year questions for Biology Paper 4 and Chemistry Paper 4. I also revised my teacher's notes and the notes that I took down myself while in class.

8 May 2014 (Thursday):
I went to college on that day because my Biology teacher held an extra class for Biology Paper 5. The extra class was in the afternoon but I went to college in the morning. Before the extra class started, I went to the learning hub of my college and did revision for Biology Paper 5. Later, I met a few of my friends. I had lunch with them at Good Friends Cafe before going for the extra class. After the extra class ended, I continued revising Biology Paper 5 at home. I went through the past year questions and the mark schemes on the internet. I also revised the Practical worksheets, my teacher's notes and the textbook.

9 May 2014 (Friday):
It was the first day of my A2 Level examination. The subject tested on that day was Biology Paper 5. The questions were extremely difficult, much more difficult than what I had expected. The style of the questions was very different compared to the questions in the past few years. For the question on planning experiment, it was about genetic fingerprinting, which I did not revise much before the test. I could not answer many of the questions. I was not at all confident of this paper and I estimated that I would score only about 10/30. Many of my friends also felt that the paper was very difficult. After returning home, I revised Biology Paper 4 and Chemistry Paper 4.

10 May 2014 (Saturday) and 11 May 2014 (Sunday):
There were no examination during the 2 days. I spent most of my time doing revision for Chemistry Paper 4. I revised my teacher's notes.

12 May 2014 (Monday):
The subject tested on that day was Chemistry Paper 4. The questions were not difficult and were easier than what I had expected. However, there were a few questions that were a bit difficult and I did not answer them well. I also made a few careless mistakes. I was confident of scoring above 80/100 for this paper. After returning home, I revised Biology Paper 4. I did not revise for Mathematics Paper 4 although it was also tested on the next day because I did not have enough time.

13 May 2014 (Tuesday):
Mathematics Paper 4 and Biology Paper 4 were tested on that day. Mathematics Paper 4 started first in the morning followed by Biology Paper 4 in the afternoon. For Mathematics Paper 4, the questions were moderately difficult. However, I made careless mistakes in a few questions. Also, there was a question which stated that I had to solve it using energy method, but I solved it by calculating the acceleration and then using F=ma because I did not read the question carefully. Therefore, I was confident of scoring only about 40/50 for this paper. For Biology Paper 4, many of the questions were extremely difficult, just like Biology Paper 5. Most questions tested on application instead of just knowledge and understanding. There were several questions that tested on the topic of Gene Technology which was the topic I disliked most. I did not revise much for that topic because I thought that not many questions would test on it since Biology Paper 5 already tested on that topic. So, I could not answer many of those questions. I also did not have enough time to finish all questions and I had to leave some questions blank. Therefore, I screwed up this paper. Since both Biology Paper 4 and Paper 5 were very difficult, I was not at all confident of getting A* and I was confident but not 100% confident of getting A. I was quite worried of Biology.  Many of my friends were also quite worried. That day was my most stressful day throughout my A2 Level examination.

14 May 2014 (Wednesday) to 18 May 2014 (Sunday):
There were no examination during the 5 days. On 14 May, I spent most of my time relaxing and I studied very little. Then from 15 May to 18 May, I did revision for Physics Paper 4. I did past year questions for Physics Paper 4. I also revised my teacher's notes.

19 May 2014 (Monday):
Physics Paper 4 was the subject tested on that day. The questions were a bit difficult, but were easier than what I had expected. There were a few questions that I could not answer. I was confident of scoring above 70/100 for this paper. After returning home, I revised Mathematics Paper 3. I did past year questions for Mathematics Paper 3. I also went through the examples in my teacher's notes.

20 May 2014 (Tuesday):
The subject tested on that day was Mathematics Paper 3. The questions were quite easy. I could finish all the questions within the time limit and I even had time to recheck all my answers. I was confident of scoring very high marks and maybe full marks for this paper. I was very sure of getting A* for Mathematics. After the test, there was a briefing in my college for all students who were sponsored by the MOE Bursary and I attended it. The briefing lasted for 1 hour and they told us the steps that we had to do in order to be sponsored by the JPA scholarship. My friends waited for me outside the venue of briefing until the briefing was over. After that, I had lunch with my friends at a Korean restaurant near my college. After returning home, I revised Chemistry Paper 5. I went through the past year papers and the mark schemes on the internet.

21 May 2014 (Wednesday):
Chemistry Paper 5 was the subject tested on that day. The questions were a bit difficult. There were a few questions that I did not answer well. I was confident of scoring above 15/30 for this paper. I was very sure of getting A* for Chemistry. After returning home, I revised Physics Paper 5. I went through the past year papers and the mark schemes on the internet. I also did some past year questions for Physics Paper 5.

22 May 2014 (Thursday):
It was the last day of my A2 Level examination. The subject tested on that day was Physics Paper 5. The questions were quite easy. I was confident of scoring above 25/30 for this paper. I was very sure of getting A* for Physics. After the test, I went to Sunway Pyramid with my friends. There, we watched X-Men: Days of Future Past and then had dinner at Bubba Gump Restaurant. After that, I returned home. Even though the A2 Level examination was over, I still could not relax because I had to prepare for my IMU interview on 29 May 2014 and write my personal statement for my application to NUMed Malaysia.

Based on my opinion, this is the ranking of all papers I took from the most difficult to the easiest:
1. Biology Paper 5
2. Biology Paper 4
3. Physics Paper 4
4. Chemistry Paper 5
5. Mathematics Paper 4
6. Chemistry Paper 4
7. Physics Paper 5
8. Mathematics Paper 3

My A Level results was out on 12 August 2014 at 1PM. A few days before the results was released, I felt worried about my results. I was very confident of getting A* for Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, but I was not 100% confident of getting A for Biology. The conditions of my offer from NUMed Malaysia was AAA including Chemistry and Biology. So, if I did not get A in Biology, my offer from NUMed Malaysia would be withdrawn. If that happened, I could still study Medicine at IMU and be sponsored by the JPA scholarship, but it would be very disappointing for me. At that time, my greatest hope was that I could get A for all subjects including Biology, and I was willing to give up my A* in exchange for that.

On 12 August 2014, just before the results was released, I was very nervous. I was at my house in Subang Jaya at that time. In order to make myself feel less nervous, I kept playing the song 是我在做多情种 at high volume using my iPad. It is a very nice song, and I knew the song just a few days before that. At 1PM, I checked my results at the Cambridge International Examinations website using the username and password provided by my college. I was so happy to know that I got A* for all 4 subjects including Biology. I could not control myself and I shouted 'Yes!', even though there was no one in my house at that time. I then informed my grandparents and parents about my results and they were very happy about that.

However, on that day after I got my results and on the following day, my body did not feel well, maybe because I was too stressed before that. I sent my A Level results to both NUMed Malaysia and IMU. Both universities then converted my conditional offer to unconditional offer. I also submitted my A Level results to JPA. On 29 August 2014, my A Level Statement of Results was out and I went to my college to collect it. 

This is my A Level results:
Biology: A* (92%)
Chemistry: A* (93%)
Mathematics: A* (94%)
Physics: A* (95%)

The interesting thing about my results is that my percentage uniform marks for the 4 subjects are in an ascending order.

If you find this story interesting, you may want to read this too:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-2013-year-end-examination.html 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The process of my application to universities

I obtained 4A* for A Level, 4A for AS Level and 9A+ 1A for SPM. Some people may think that with such academic results, I will have no problems in my application to universities. However, in reality the process of my application to universities had not been smooth and easy. In fact, I had to go through several challenges and disappointments in my application to universities. Here, I am sharing the entire process of my application to universities.

On 29 July 2013, I started applying to UK universities through UCAS. I chose University of Cambridge, University College London (UCL), Imperial College London (ICL) and King's College London (KCL) for Medicine course. I was required to write a personal statement for the application, which I felt was a difficult task. Therefore, I delayed submitting the application. Later, the deadline of the application to Cambridge which was 12 August 2013 had passed, so I chose to apply to University of Oxford instead of University of Cambridge. The deadline of the UCAS application for Medicine course was on 17 September 2013. I started writing my personal statement just a few days before the deadline. I finished writing the personal statement on time, but I had no time to have it checked by anyone. To me, my personal statement seemed to be quite satisfactory. I submitted the UCAS application on 17 September 2013 itself. 

Oxford, UCL and ICL required me to take the BMAT test while KCL required me to take the UKCAT test. I was only able to sit for BMAT but not UKCAT, because the deadline had already passed when I tried to book a test centre for UKCAT. On 3 October 2013, I attended a mock interview for Oxford which was arranged by Taylor's College. I was quite nervous before the interview since this was the first time I attended an interview. The interview was quite difficult, but it was still easier than what I had expected. I thought that I performed quite well during the interview since I could answer most of the questions. However, the interviewer's remark on me was that I was an "unfortunate interviewee with poor communication skills" and he gave me grade C+ for the mock interview. I was a little disappointed but not too disappointed since grade C+ is actually still a pass.

On 3 December 2013, I was rejected by Oxford without being shortlisted for an actual interview. Oxford said that it was because the application to Oxford was too competitive. I did not feel too disappointed, as I was confident that I would be shortlisted for interview by at least one other UK university. Later that month, I also started my application to University of Hong Kong (HKU). Again, I was required to write a personal statement. I decided to just use the same personal statement that I used for my UCAS application earlier and make some minor changes to it. I submitted the application to HKU on 21 December 2013. At that time, I still did not have my actual A Level results so I had to use my forecast results to apply to universities.

In January 2014, I was first rejected by UCL, followed by ICL and then KCL. All of them did not shortlist me for interview. That made me feel very disappointed. Since I was rejected by all UK universities, I was allowed to apply to another UK university through UCAS Extra. However, for Medicine course very few universities were still open for application, and all those that were still open required the UKCAT test which I did not take. In other words, I had no more chance to study Medicine in UK. On 17 February 2014, I submitted my application to National University of Singapore (NUS). Actually, NUS did not accept forecast results for application to Medicine. However, I still applied to NUS, hoping that they might give me an offer for deferred entry in 2015. Later, I found out that NUS would not give offers for deferred entry. So, I did not pay the application fee. My application was automatically withdrawn after the payment deadline on 28 February 2014.

At that time, many Malaysian private universities were open for application. Initially, I planned to apply to International Medical University (IMU), AIMST University, Monash University Malaysia, Newcastle University Medicine (NUMed) Malaysia, Perdana University, UCSI University, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) and University Kuala Lumpur - Royal College of Medicine Perak (UniKL-RCMP), because all of them are in the list for JPA scholarship. I later realised that AIMST, CUCMS, UniKL-RCMP, UCSI and Monash Malaysia do not accept forecast results. I had to wait until my actual results is released in August 2014 before I could apply to those universities, but by then they are likely to be almost full except for Monash Malaysia where the intake is in March 2015.

Therefore, I could only apply to IMU, NUMed Malaysia and Perdana. I submitted the application for IMU on 21 February 2014. However, NUMed Malaysia required me to write a personal statement for the application. After I was rejected by all UK universities, I suspected that my personal statement earlier might be poor so I had to make some changes to it before using it to apply for NUMed Malaysia. At that time, I was quite busy preparing for my A2 Trial Examination. I decided to wait until after the A2 Trial Examination before I start writing the personal statement. At the same time, Perdana required me to submit a health examination report from my doctor. My doctor told me that the report would only be out a few weeks later.

At that time, many of my friends who applied to UK universities had received offers from at least one university. That made me want to have an offer from a UK university as well. Although I could not apply to any universities for Medicine course through UCAS Extra, I realised that I could still apply for other courses. I decided to apply to Kingston University London for Pharmacy course. Since Kingston is a very low ranked university, my chance of getting an offer should be quite high. However, even if they offered me a place, it is highly unlikely that I would be accepting it. What I wanted was just an offer from a UK university.

On 5 March 2014, out of my expectation, HKU sent me an email inviting me to attend an interview in Kuala Lumpur. I was very happy because that was the first time I was shortlisted for interview by a university. Moreover, I did not have to go to Hong Kong to attend the interview. Then on 7 March 2014, I received a phone call from IMU. IMU asked me to choose an interview date and I chose 29 May 2014 which was one week after my A2 Final Examination. I attended the interview for HKU on 16 March 2014. This was the first real interview that I attended. It consisted of both group and individual interview. The group interview was quite difficult, while the individual interview was easy. Later on that month, my health examination report for Perdana was finally out. I submitted the application for Perdana on 31 March 2014. Soon after that, Perdana invited me to attend an interview.

After my A2 Trial Examination, I wanted to write the personal statement for NUMed Malaysia. This time, I asked one of my friend who had a lot of experience in this for help. I showed her the personal statement that I used for my UCAS application earlier and asked her to help make the necessary changes to it. However, my friend said that my previous personal statement was very poor and I should completely rewrite the personal statement. My A2 Final Examination would be starting soon so I was busy doing revision at that time. Therefore, I decided to write the personal statement only after the examination.

On 15 April 2014, I received an offer from Kingston for Pharmacy course. Even though Kingston is a low ranked university and the offer was not for Medicine course, I still felt happy because at least my UCAS application wasn't a complete failure. However, I would not be accepting the offer. Then on 25 April 2014, I attended the interview for Perdana. The interview was moderately difficult and I was quite confident of being offered a place. However, I received a letter from Perdana on 6 May 2014 which stated that I was rejected by them. I felt extremely disappointed. My parents were also disappointed. The fact that I was rejected even by a local university meant that my interview skills was really poor. Actually, one of my close friend also attended an interview for another university on the sane day as my interview for Perdana, and although he said that his interview was very difficult, he was successful in getting an offer.

Soon after that, it was my A2 Final Examination. My focus on doing revision for the exam partly helped reduce my disappointment. I was worried that other universities might also reject me due to my poor interview skills, so I also applied to SEGi University as a backup option. Since the ranking of SEGi is not high, I felt that my chance of getting an offer should be quite high. I submitted the application on 19 May 2014. After the exam ended, I started writing the personal statement for NUMed Malaysia. I rewrote the whole personal statement from scratch. After reading this personal statement, my friend said that it was a great improvement over the previous one but it was still not good enough. With her help, I corrected a part of the personal statement every day.

On 29 May 2014, I attended the interview for IMU. The interview was not difficult but I was not too confident of being offered a place because I was rejected by Perdana earlier. I was quite worried because if IMU rejected me, it is very likely that I would also be rejected by other universities. I kept praying that I would get an offer from IMU. On 31 May 2014, IMU telephoned me to inform me that they had offered me a place for Medicine. I felt very happy and relieved about that. I then received the conditional offer letter on 3 June 2014. After that, on 4 June 2014, SEGi telephoned me and asked me to attend an interview. I chose to be interviewed in late July.

On 5 June 2014, I finished making all the necessary corrections for my personal statement for NUMed Malaysia and my friend told me that it was good enough to be submitted. I submitted the application to NUMed Malaysia on that day. Then on 9 June 2014, NUMed Malaysia sent me an email which states that I had been shortlisted for interview. This proved that the personal statement really played an important role in the application process. I attended the interview for NUMed Malaysia on 25 June 2014. The interview was not difficult but again, I was not too confident of getting an offer. I really liked NUMed Malaysia after going there for the interview so I hoped that I would be offered a place. However, I did not feel too worried about that because even if I was rejected, I could still study Medicine at IMU.

On 26 June 2014, I received a conditional offer from NUMed Malaysia. I felt very happy, because for the first time I was offered a place for Medicine by a UK university, even though it was the Malaysia campus. This also proved that my interview skills was not too bad. However, the conditions of the offer was 3A in A level including Chemistry and Biology. This made me feel a bit worried as I was not 100% confident of getting A for Biology. After receiving offers from both IMU and NUMed Malaysia, I regretted applying to SEGi earlier. However, I had paid the non-refundable application fee so I decided to just attend the interview. I could also use that as an opportunity to practise and improve my interview skills. On 25 July 2014, my offer from Kingston for Pharmacy was automatically withdrawn because I did not accept it before the deadline. Then on 5 August 2014, I attended the interview for SEGi. The interview was not difficult, but it was not as easy as what I had expected and it lasted for a long time. SEGi then telephoned me on 8 August 2014 to tell me that they offered me a place.

On 12 August 2014, my actual A Level results was out and I obtained 4A*. I was very happy because I met the conditions of the offer from NUMed Malaysia. I sent my results to NUMed Malaysia, HKU and IMU. Both NUMed Malaysia and IMU then converted my conditional offer to unconditional offer. However, HKU still did not reply me. On 15 August 2014, I informed SEGi that I no longer wanted to study there. After that, I also telephoned IMU on 21 August 2014 to tell them to withdraw the offer. Then on 27 August 2014, HKU finally rejected me. They said that it was because the application to HKU was too competitive. I did not feel too disappointed about that since I was offered a place by NUMed Malaysia which is also a very good university. 

With that, all the universities that I had applied to have replied me. I made my final decision to study Medicine course at NUMed Malaysia and I accepted its unconditional offer on 29 August 2014. I started studying at NUMed Malaysia on 22 September 2014.

From this story, it is clear that getting the best academic results will not guarantee you a place at any university, especially for competitive courses like Medicine. Other factors such as interview performance and personal statement are also very important. To increase your chance of being offered a place, you should apply to as many universities as possible. Hope everyone will learn something from this story.