Are the NCEA scholarship exams equivalent to the AP tests in the USA? How are they viewed in the USA uni admission process?
No, they are not equivalent. Typically, AP exams are more widely understood than NCEA scholarship exams and serve a specific function of helping you place out of some university coursework. NCEA scholarships are definitely enhancing to your candidacy but are relatively less understood and so it is important your teacher references provide clarity as to how your achievements compare to others in the nation. Many Crimson students have been admitted to to US schools with Premier Scholarships, Outstanding Scholarships, outstanding scholarships and Top in Subject awards and there is definitely increased familiarity with them at some of the top schools.
Fire me an email with your current NCEA, CIE or IB grades and potential target universities and I will recommend which pathway is more appropriate to improve your candidacy - firstname.lastname@example.org