NZQA Scholarship- Recommendation


Hey guys,

Next year I will be in Yr 12 and I am considering doing several NZQA scholarship subjects (5 minimum). As I will be doing Yr 13 Calculus and Economics next year, I definitely want to attempt these two subjects at a scholarship level. Moreover, I am willing to self-study Statistics as I am quite strong in Maths.

My question is: which additional subjects should I self-study? I am very good at the Sciences and hence, it would be logical for me to self-study Chemistry and/or Physics. However, I have read that there are also multiple subjects such as Art History, PE, and Geography which are relatively easier if you have a solid grasp of English. I think I am quite good at English (I have straight Excellences) and so this is another option.

In terms of my workload, I will be studying 6 full NCEA courses next year and I will also be self-studying 4 AS subjects. Having this in mind, which additional scholarship subjects would you recommend?



It’s great to hear that you’re doing some Scholarship subjects in Year 12 - it’s a really good idea to get started early with these exams and not just leave them till Year 13 if you really want to do well. I did a few Scholarships and self studied most of them so should be able to give you a couple pointers.

Firstly, definitely do Calculus and Economics if you’re studying them at L3. Statistics also makes a lot of sense to do and it’s one of the easier Scholarships to learn and get.

With Chemistry and Physics, these can be good ones to do but be wary that you will need a really solid grasp of Level 3 concepts. This means that you’re going to have to learn all the Level 3 content for both of these. With that in mind, I’d recommend doing one of these at most (probably the one you’re most interested in, but keep in mind that Physics is likely to be a little easier if your Maths is quite strong).

This leaves the essay based subjects. PE is a really good one to do because there’s no exam. You just pick a topic in PE/Health (really wide scope) and then write a report about it (examples are available on the NZQA website to give you a pointer). This means you can do this early in the year and get it out of the way.

Geography and Art History are also reasonably good ones to try. I haven’t done either, but from what I gather, Art History requires a lot more knowledge and is generally harder, whereas Geography has a slightly lower standard and since they give you resources in the exam there isn’t as much to learn (it’s more about the skill of answering questions).

A couple of other ones to consider are English and Earth and Space Science. English Scholarship tends to have a reasonably high standard, but by doing the scholarship your writing skill and style will be pushed, as will the way you think about texts and the texts you engage with, so it can be a good one to improve your writing and skill for Level 2/3 English. Earth and Space Science is another Scholarship where you write three quite brief essays on topics about the ocean, the atmosphere and outer space. This is a really good one to self-study because there’s not a lot of content and if you are interested in science it can be really interesting to learn. The exam itself isn’t very hard and they give you some specific resources in the exam with which to develop your essay responses.

Hopefully that gives you a bit to think about! :slight_smile:


Hi @a.merchant

Thank you for your response. I have another question regarding the Physics scholarship exam: do you know whether the test incorporates material from all Lvl. 3 Physics standards or only material from the external standards?


Physics Scholarship can include content from the three externals as well as two internals, Modern Physics and the internal practical. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the practical physics investigation come up in the Scholarship exam, so it mostly seems to focus on the three externals and the Modern Physics internal.



In terms of humanities subjects that you could self study - English and Geography would probably be your best bet. For English, if you are already taking it at AS Level this will be pretty good preparation. You will need a range of texts to answer Section C of the exam, and may also need to practice the Unfamiliar Text section - particularly if you didn’t do it at L1!

Geography is one of the best subjects to self-study, I did this when I was at school and found it pretty straightforward. The context for the exam changes from year to year (as previously been things like Human Migration, Agriculture and Technology) this enables you to use pretty current case studies and makes it really interesting in my opinion!

To do well in the exam you need strong essay writing skills, and the ability to develop an argument based on an essay question. You also have to incorporate diagrams into your response which is something you’ll need to work on if you haven’t done Geo before. The exam provides a big resource of case studies relevant to the context - so a lot of content memorisation isn’t required.

In terms of Art History - this would probably involve a substantial amount more memorisation of content and evidence to use. I did Schol Art History - but was taking L3 so already had a lot of the content available from work done in class. Unless you were taking AS Art History or had done it at L1, this would probably involve a significant time commitment to learning the information - which is just something to bear in mind!

PE - is a good one to do because it’s all internally assessed, so you write a report based on a topic and then hand this in around the end of October with no exam! Because it is internally assessed, schools have a bit more involvement with setting the standards and helping students develop a report topic - so I’d suggest touching base with a PE teacher at your school to find out a bit more about how the school approaches it.

Hope this helps!