I am sure many of you who want to study in Japan have heard of the MEXT Scholarship before, but you might wonder what exactly is this scholarship? How do I apply or how do I increase my chances of obtaining this scholarship?Fear not! I have created a comprehensive guide that will (hopefully) help you.

Warning: Information might defer depending on your country!

First of all, what is the MEXT Scholarship?

It is a scholarship offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and is divided into five categories: (1) Teacher Training Students (2) Japanese Studies Students (3) Undergraduate Students (4) Specialized Training College Students (5) Research Students.
This scholarship is highly popular as not only will all school fees will be paid by MEXT, but scholars will receive a monthly stipend as well. Today, I will be writing about the Undergraduate Program, which I am currently in.

The Application Process

There are four main stages in total during the application process, as stated below.
(1) Document screening
(2) Written exams
(3) Interview
(4) Final document screening by MEXT

(1) Document screening

Source: http://factsuite.com/blog/documents-required-background-screening/

Download and prepare the documents via the website of the Embassy of Japan in your country. There are three documents you have to prepare in total: the Application Form, the Certificate of Health, and the Recommendation Form (unless you wish to skip the one-year preparatory course and want a direct placement at a university. If so, you will have to prepare four documents). For my case, I was told to prepare three copies of each document and I had to obtain a stamp from my school to certify that the copies I made were true copies. (This information is based on the Embassy of Japan in Singapore.)

(2) Written Exams

Source: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/cambridge-may-end-written-exams-due-to-bad-handwriting/464956.html

The written exams differ depending on your major (arts or science). Students majoring in Social Sciences and Humanities (arts) will have to take English, Japanese and Mathematics while those majoring in Natural Sciences have to take English, Japanese, Mathematics as well as two sciences. If you applied with a major under the category of Natural Science A, you will have to take Physics and Chemistry and if you applied under Natural Science B or C, you will have to take Biology and Chemistry. There are several past year papers available online so do try them out before the actual exam.

(3) Interview

Source: https://www.hotcoursesabroad.com/india/get-your-visa/how-to-prepare-for-a-visa-interview/australian-student-visa-interview-and-processing-time/

This is the toughest stage out of the four. It will be good to arrive at least fifteen minutes prior your interview, and to dress well (Either your school uniform or a suit). Most frequently asked questions are “Why did you choose (insert: the universities you chose) as your top three choices?”, “Why did you choose (insert: the majors of your choice) as your top three choices?”, “What will you do if you do not receive the major of your choice?”, “Why do you want to study in Japan?”, “How proficient are you in Japanese?” and “Can you introduce yourself? (In English and/or in Japanese)” Prepare the answer to these questions  and remember to show a humble attitude throughout the interview.

(4) Final document screening by MEXT
Now all you have to do is wait! All your documents from stage one to three will be sent to MEXT (in Japan), and they will make the final decision. If you pass, you will be notified via email and a letter, and they will tell you which preparatory course you have been assigned to; it will be either Osaka University (Minoh campus) or the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (unfortunately, you will not be able to choose which university you want to go to).

Depending on your country and major, competition might be tough; for example, intake of students from countries such as Korea might be higher than other countries (the ratio for my year was six Koreans compared to three Singaporeans) but do not be disheartened! I wish you all the best and I hope my guide has helped you!