My Scholarship Application Experience: MEXT Scholarship Research Student
Tips for writing a study plan
The study plan is probably the hardest thing to prepare among the application documents, so I would like to share some tips I learned through the process. If you get to go forward to the interview stage, it does really determine whether you can pass to the final round.
Point 1) Get rid of the “I am not good enough” feeling
I always feel this way, so I understand. But this feeling doesn’t take you anywhere, and if we give up here, our chances will be zero.
Point 2) Make your idea thorough and concrete
Some people may have no idea how and where to start. How about finding the good and strong points in yourself first? For normal people like us, everybody has to be good at something. This will really help. In my case, it is probably just “a person who loves drawing since I was a kid and I have never given up.”
May be you can start by asking yourself simple questions like, “Who am I?”, “What am I interested in?”, “What do I want to do from now on?” You may feel it’s difficult at first, but just try to ponder the answers you come up with. Also, don’t worry about lack of knowledge about some things. See it as “I don’t know, I want to know, that’s why I want to study.”
Credit: Green Chameleon
Point 3) Think a bit further
It is also important to think of a future beyond your education in Japan. If you get the scholarship, what will you be in the future? The hard thing about this is we are writing about the unseen future and many people are wondering how big it should be? Maybe you can start with, “What kind of person I want to be in the future,” “Things I can do to make myself happy,” and if that thing can contribute something for a better society, that would be great.
Point 4) Maintain consistency
I researched a bit about “how to write a good study plan” from some English websites. I found one interesting point which suggests, “A good study plan leaves a clear impression of who you are.” And the impression you want to leave should be the personal strength you think of in Point 2).
Above all, you have to write it concretely. On this point, I found my study plan quite lacking, so I think if you can add structure to your study plan guideline, it will be perfect. The structure may include the topic of your research, objective, motivation, hypothesis, how to conduct the research, things you would like to do, expected outcome, etc.
The MEXT Research Student Scholarship with Recommendation from Embassy of Japan in Thailand has 3 categories and examination subjects may vary according to the category you apply for. Mine was R1A, so I took only an English test. (Scholarship categories and examination subjects may vary depending on the country. Please check the information from the Japanese diplomatic mission in your country.)
1. R1A : Social Sciences and Humanities: Laws, Politics, Pedagogy, Psychology, Sociology, Linguistics, Literature, History, Aesthetics, Music, Fine Arts, etc.
2. R1B : Social Sciences and Humanities: Economics, Commerce, Businesses Administration, etc.
3. R2 : Natural Sciences: Pure Science, Engineering, Agriculture, Fisheries, Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Home Economics, etc.
I strongly recommend that you go through past test questions as much as possible because the test has the same pattern. You can find past tests on the “Study in Japan” website shown below.
Study in Japan Qualifying Examinations for Applicants for MEXT Scholarships (English) https://www.studyinjapan.go.jp/en/planning/scholarship/application/examination/
Credit: Yustinus Tjiuwanda
Only the students who pass the test will continue to the interview. Apparently, the ratio of selection is about one in 4-5 people. In my case, there were 4 interviewers (judges) and the interview took place at the Embassy of Japan in Thailand. The officer was so nice and kind, and made me feel so relieved.
Before the interview, you should think of various kinds of questions regarding yourself and your study plan, and practice answering them again and again. The practice will make you feel more confident in the interview.
Many people wonder if they need to wear a suit. Actually, if you can that would be good, but a formal outfit (like business shirts with slacks or skirt) will do. I wore a white shirt with blue slacks.
Credit: Hunters Race
In the interview waiting room, I was given a paper saying, “Introduce yourself, who you are, what you want to do and why you want to go to Japan.” Remember the Q&A practice you did before the interview, and prepare yourself.
Before entering the room, you should knock the door and say, “Shitsurei shimasu,” or, “excuse me.” It is always nice to be polite!
Many people wonder which language (Japanese or English) they should introduce themselves in. I checked with some people who took the interview test, and I think either language is fine. In my case, I had no knowledge of Japanese at that time, so I bowed and said konnichiwa and then spoke in English.
Always remember, a good answer is clear and comes from your heart. A good answer doesn’t need to be big, like changing the world or trying to make yourself look cool. It can be a humble answer, but one that truly shows what you really want to be and what exactly you want to do. Because once you get this scholarship, there will be tough things such as a huge language barrier, cultural barrier, etc. that you will need to overcome. Considering those ahead, this mountain is like a hill.
Hopefully this article helps you to prepare for the MEXT scholarship application!
I am rooting for you all!
Credit: Ross Parmly
（Text: Charoenkijkajorn Possanunt, Kyoto Institute of Technology）
STUDY KYOTO “About Scholarships” （English）
STUDY KYOTO MAGAZINE “Scholarships in Japan: You can afford to study abroad!”（English）
Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship (Japanese)
Study in Japan “Scholarships” (English）