I personally sat 9 NZQA Scholarship exams, a number of which in subjects that I never had taken. First and foremost, I think that there is an important dichotomy within the NZQA Scholarship subjects. Firstly, there are subjects like (but not limited to) Art History, Media Studies, and Geography that do not require an awful amount of subject knowledge. To pass these sorts of exams you must have a basic knowledge of the subject, excellent essay-writing and argumentation skills, and study a number of past papers. Secondly, there are subjects like (but again not limited to) Calculus, Economics, and Accounting that require a lot of subject knowledge. To pass these sorts of exams you must have an extremely good knowledge of the subject and study a number of past papers.
Let me start by first talking about how you should go about self-studying for the first type of subject (Art History, Media Studies, Geography, etc.) if you do not not take it in school. I think an important precursor is excellent essay-writing skills. If you, for example, have always attained excellences in English then this is a good indicator that you will succeed in these types of subjects. Firstly, I would recommend that you work out exactly what is expected of you from the exam. Read past papers, exemplars, and any online resources that are out there. Look at the prompts for this year’s exams. Once you know what is expected of you, start studying the material that will be tested for this year’s exam. There is no easy way around this - learn what you need to know. Use the internet, books from the library, teacher’s from your school, NZQA Scholarship resources, etc. Once you believe that you have the required subject knowledge, complete a number past papers and write essays based on likely prompts. If you have teachers who can look over these and give you feedback, then that is fantastic. If not, the process of completing past papers and writing essays in itself is still extremely beneficial. As a whole, this should be good preparation for passing this type of Scholarship exam.
The second type of subject (Calculus, Economics, Accounting) requires you to put a lot more time and effort into studying for its NZQA Scholarship exam. This is because excellent essay-writing or argumentation skills do not carry you very far; you can only pass these exams with an excellent knowledge of the subject. These exams are usually an extension of what you learn in NCEA Level Three for these subjects. Thus, I recommend that you begin by buying a comprehensive NCEA Level Three workbook for the subject. There are generally a number of brands and you can buy the books at shops like Whitcoulls. Once you have an excellent knowledge of the NCEA Level Three subject, you should begin studying specifically for the NZQA Scholarship exam. Again, I would recommend buying a specific workbook for this - there is generally at least one for each subject. If you do not understand a particular concept (at both the Level Three and Scholarship level), then try and find a better explanation online. Once you are well-versed in the Scholarship material, sit as many past papers as you can to ensure that you are well-prepared. Bear in mind that the process of self-studying for these types of subjects will require you to start a lot earlier and spend a lot more time than for the first type of subjects that I discussed.
This is the exact process that I went about for studying for the NZQA Scholarship exams. In the end, I passed 8 of the 9 exams I sat: Statistics (O), Accounting (S), Economics (S), Physical Education (S), History (S), Classical Studies (S), English (S), and Music (S). Tutoring can definitely be one of the most important components of self-studying for an NZQA Scholarship exam, but my results are proof that if you do not have the necessary resources then hard work and determination can be enough.