Meritocracy Method Determines the Fate of UPU Applicants!

Published by Afterschool.my on Sep 14, 2021, 01:45 pm

What exactly is the meritocracy method? What makes it so important to the extent it is said to determine the fate of UPU applicants? For your information, meritocracy was known as a form of recognition given to a particular group of people who are considered to be excellent or competent. 

This method is regarded to be rather fair as it gives a fair chance to those who are capable of becoming leaders. In this case, we are looking at how students are chosen for admission to public universities.  Based on their performance, UPU uses its system to carefully evaluate those who are more qualified. The following is an official statement by the UPU on the meritocracy method used.

"The recruitment and selection policy for admission to Public Universities (UA), IPTA/Community Colleges and Public Skills Training Institutes (ILKA) is in line with the government's policy to achieve the Ministry's Key Result Areas (MKRA), which is to increase access and equity in higher education to the people through the principle of meritocracy and adopting 90% academic marks and 10% co -curricular marks. The determination of merit value is carried out regardless of religion, race, descent, state, place of residence and so on ".

In accordance with this, starting in 2010, the Ministry of Education Malaysia has implemented a new grading system for Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia (SPM) to facilitate the calculation of merit marks during student applications for admission to public universities later. The new grading is given based on the student’s outstanding performance in the examination. It starts from grades A+, A, A-, B+, B, C+, C, D, E and G. This new grade replaces the old grades used previously, namely 1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5C, 6C, 7D, 8E and 9G.

Merit Calculation Process

For your information, the calculation of a candidate's merit score by UPU involves three (3) processes, starting with the process of determining applicants’ stream, preparation and calculation of merit marks as well as the preparation of merit arrangement. Here we share more specifics of each process in the calculation of merit marks according to the application category.

Determination of Streams 

The first process begins with the determination of applicants' streams, whether applicants are from the Science Stream or Arts Stream. Based on the streams, UPU will evaluate applicants performance on the four (4) or five (5) main subjects as follows:

Determination of Streams for SPM/ Equivalent Applicants

 Streams for SPM/ Equivalent Applicants

Determination of Streams for STPM/ Equivalent Applicants


For SPM/ Equivalent or STPM/ Equivalent applicants who are not from the Science Stream, they will be automatically classified into the Arts Stream. For applicants from the arts stream, their performance will be evaluated based on the following subjects: 

  • Bahasa Malaysia

  • Mathematics

  • Science

  • History

  • Islamic Studies/ Al-Quran and As-Sunah Education/ Islamic Syariah Education/ Moral knowledge

Preparation and Calculation of Merit

The second process is the calculation of merit based on the applicants’ academic marks. Academic marks represent 90% of the total marks and the remaining 10% is calculated from the Co-Curriculum marks. The method of calculating merit marks is described above, which is based on the value of the total grade of the subject. To facilitate your understanding, we share infographics for both application categories (SPM/Equivalent and STPM/Equivalent) as below.

Merit Calculation for SPM/Equivalent Applicants

Merit Calculation for SPM

Merit Calculation for Science Stream Applicants

90 marks from the following 5 subjects:

  • Mathematics

  • additional Mathematics

  • Physics

  • Chemistry

  • Biology or one of the following subjects: Civil Engineering Studies / Electrical & Electronic Engineering Studies / Mechanical Engineering Studies / Invention / Engineering Drawing / Home Economics / Agricultural Science / Agro Technology Studies / Engineering Technology / Information Technology / Accounting Principles / Commerce Basic Economics / Sports Science Knowledge.

30 marks from the other 3 best SPM subjects taken.

Example of Calculation Steps

In the first step, let’s assume that this is the exam results of a Science Stream applicant who sat for 9 subjects:

  • Malay A +

  • English A+

  • Islamic Education A+

  • History of A+

  • Mathematics A+

  • Additional Mathematics A

  • Physics A-

  • Chemistry A

  • Biology A


The second step is to calculate the academic marks for the 5 main subjects (Science Stream):

  • Mathematics A+ = 18

  • Additional Mathematics A = 16

  • Physics A- = 14

  • Chemistry A = 16

  • Biology A- = 14 

Total: 78 


The third step is to calculate the academic marks for the 3 best SPM subjects taken, for example:

  • Malay A + = 18

  • English A+ = 18

  • Islamic Education A+ = 18 

Total: 54


The fourth step is add the overall scores as follows:

  • Academic Marks = Main Subject Marks based on Stream + Best Subject Marks

  • Main Subject Marks based on Stream = (78 x 90)/90 = 78

  • Best Subject Mark = (54 x 30)/54 = 30

  • Total Academic Marks = (Main Subject Mark based on Stream + Best Subject Marks) 120 x 90 = (78 + 30)/120 x 90 = 81

Merit Calculation for Arts Stream Applicants

Example of Calculation Steps

In this first step, let’s assume that this is the exam results of a Arts stream applicant who sat for 9 subjects:

English (A +)

English (A+)

Moral Knowledge (B+)

History (C+)

Mathematics (B)

Science (B)

Commerce (C+)

Basic Economics (C)

Home Economics (A)


The second step is to calculate the academic marks for 5 main subjects (Arts Stream)

  • Malay A + = 18

  • Mathematics B = 10

  • Science B = 10

  • History of C+ = 8

  • Moral Knowledge B+ = 12

Total: 58

The third step, calculate the academic marks for the 3 best SPM subjects taken (Arts Stream):

  • English A+ = 18

  • Home Economics A = 16

  • History C+ = 8 

Total: 42


The fourth step is to add the overall scores as follows:

  • Academic Marks = Main Subject Marks based on Stream + Best Subject Marks

  • Main Subject Marks based on Stream = (58 x 90)/90 = 58

  • Best Subject Marks= (42 x 30)/54 = 23.3

  • Total Academic Marks= Main Subject Mark based on Stream + Best Subject Marks) = (58 + 23.3)/120 x 90 = 60.9

Merit Calculation for STPM/Equivalent Applicants

Here, we share infographics on how merit is calculated for STPM/ equivalent applicants.

Merit Calculation for STPM

For the calculation of the 10% Co-Curriculum Marks for SPM/Equivalent and STPM/Equivalent applicants, you can refer to the infographic shared below:

Merit Arrangement

Preparation of Merit Arrangement

The final process in the calculation of merit is to compile the calculated merit marks. However, there will be situations where the applicant's merit marks are the same. So how will UPU determine which applicant to offer admission to?  p


Don't worry, UPU already has a solution. The solution is to add 1 mark for each A obtained. The amount of A+ is to be calculated first followed by other elements as in the sequence below.

Another thing you need to be well informed of is the student selection criteria for admission to a public university. Here we share the criteria according to the application categories of SPM/Equivalent leavers and STPM/Equivalent leavers. 



Therefore, we hope that by reading this article, you are now aware of what exactly meritocracy is and how UPU uses it to assess your eligibility for admission to public universities. 

On the other hand, if you had failed to obtain an offer to public university, there are still other pathways you can opt for to further you higher studies. Here are 5 different ways you can still further your higher education

If you are interested in applying to a private university but unsure of which private university is best suited for the course you want to pursue, you can schedule a personalized 20 minutes FREE Counselling with our Afterschool  Expert Counsellors. Our counsellors will help you make the right choice according to your financial ability, interests and job prospects. Lastly, remember education is a massive investment for your own future, make sure that the investment made is really worth it. Good luck!

Afterschool.my is Malaysia’s no 1 higher education website that provides helpful information on coursesinstitutions and scholarships for students transitioning from secondary school to university level.

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