International Students

STPM vs. A-Levels Grading System

by on November 4, 2016 | Top Stories, Pre-University Programmes & Foundation Studies

When is a grade considered a 'fail' and are all As equal? Here's a guide to help you in interpreting your scores.

STPM vs. A-Level Grading SystemOne of the main purposes of exams at pre-university levels is to determine if a student has the required grade to pursue a course of study at the next level. While some undergraduate courses require only a minimum of credits in any subject combination, there are also courses that require a higher grade (such as a distinction or an A) in specific subjects as its entry requirement.

If you're a student planning for your further education, it will be useful for you to understand the grading system used in exams. Grades are also useful in applications for scholarships or study loans.

STPM exam grading system

The new features of the new STPM examination introduced in 2012 include two forms of assessment: the School-Based Assessment (SBA) with a weighting of 20% to 40%, and the centralised examination with a weighting of 60% to 80% (the weighting varies according to subjects). In addition:

  1. the examination is carried out at the end of each term
  2. the assessment is carried out through written examination and SBA
  3. the candidate is permitted to repeat the examination of each term to improve the results

STPM results are reported over a range of 11 grades (instead of 7 grades previously). The table below shows the STPM subject grades and the corresponding subject grade point:

Subject Grade Subject Grade Point (SGP) (%) Status
A 4.00 Full Pass
A- 3.67 Full Pass
B+ 3.33 Full Pass
B 3.00 Full Pass
B- 2.67 Full Pass
C+ 2.33 Full Pass
C 2.00 Full Pass
C- 1.67 Partial Pass
D+ 1.33 Partial Pass
D 1.00 Partial Pass
F 0.00 Fail

For subject grades,

  • From Grade C to Grade A with values between 2.00 to 4.00 is considered a full pass;
  • Grade D to grade C with values between 1:00 to 1.67 is considered a partial pass, and
  • Grade F is valued at 0:00 and considered a fail.


Minimum requirement to be awarded an STPM certificate: The candidate will be awarded a certificate if they obtain a partial pass and above in at least one subject.

Cambridge A-Levels grading system

The Cambridge International A Level is reported on a grade scale from A* (highest) to E (minimum required performance). There is no A* grade for Cambridge International AS Levels, which are reported from grade A to E. Performance which is below standard is considered unclassified and denoted by a 'U'.

You may also be interested to know that each subject is graded separately and no Grade Point Average is calculated. Also, grades are only awarded for subjects that candidates pass.

The Percentage Uniform Mark (PUM) is a numerical mark provided for some countries alongside grades for each subject. It transfers a candidate's results to a common scale which reports how well they performed within that grade. For example if a candidate achieves a Percentage Uniform Mark of 79 then they are at the top end of a B grade.

AS level grade PUM range A level grade PUM range
a 80–100 A* 90-100
b 70–79 A 80-89
c 60–69 B 70-79
d 50–59 C 60-69
e 40–49 D 50-59
    E 40-49

Minimum requirement to be awarded an A level certificate: The candidate will be awarded a certificate stating the subjects and corresponding grades obtained. However, a grade will only be awarded to subjects that the candidate pass.

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