Last year, the national exam recorded only 10 schools with 100 per cent passes but most were in urban areas.
This time 17 secondary schools are in the interior while the remaining 18 schools in urban areas, said an elated State Education Director Datuk Jame Alip.
"In fact, SMK Membakut here created history when it was ranked the best school for STPM 2013, followed by SMK Bongawan, Papar and Kota Kinabalu High School," he said. He said a total of 7,515 students in Sabah sat for the exam compared to 6,013 students in 2012.
Jame said 7,213 candidates or 95.98 per cent passed the exam compared to 89.44 per cent in 2012, accounting for an improvement of 6.54 per cent.
He said more candidates scored 5Ps, with 141 in 2013 compared to 108 candidates the year before.
"I am pleased that rural schools have really progressed and proved their performance in the national exam, and be among the 35 top schools in Sabah."
Jame said SMK Membakut emerged as the top school in the State for having 46 candidates with at least one principal (P) and half of them obtained 5Ps.
The top 35 schools in Sabah that scored 100 per cent and based on their rankings, are SMK Membakut, Beaufort, SMK Bongawan, Papar, Kota Kinabalu High School, SMK Kunak, SMK Pekan Kota Belud, SMK Jambatan Putih, Tawau, SMK Agama Kota Kinabalu, SMK Merotai Besar, Tawau, SMK Segama, Lahad Datu, SM St. Patrick, Tawau, SM All Saints, Kota Kinabalu, SMk Datuk Pg. Galpam, Sandakan, SMK Tawau, SMK Kuhara, Tawau, SMK Kinarut, Papar, SMK Agama Limauan, Papar, SMK Agama Mohd Ali, Ranau, SMK Sikuati, Kudat, SM Teknik Likas, Kota Kinabalu, SMK Sepagaya, Lahad Datu, SMK Madai, Kunak, SM. Sung Siew, Sandakan, SMK Tamparuli, SMK Majakir, Papar, SMK Bandaraya, Kota Kinabalu, SMK Desa Kencana, Lahad Datu, SM St. Martin, Tambunan, SMK Penangah, Telupid, SMK Agama Tun Sakaran, Semporna, SM Ken Hwa, Keningau, SMK Seri Nangka, Tuaran, SMK Pekan Kuala Penyu, SMK Jalan Apas, Tawau, and SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin, Penampang.
He said a total of 30 schools, including SMK Membakut, scored 100 per cent passes in the national exam for the first time in their respective schools while five schools maintained excellent results for more than three consecutive years.
For instance, he said SM Sung Siew, Sandakan has consistently secured 100 per cent passes since 2009 until 2013, followed by Kota Kinabalu High School since 2010, SMK Perempuan Likas, Kota Kinabalu since 2009 except 2011, SMK Kunak and SMK Agama Mohd Ali, Ranau since 2011.
As for the top students, Jame announced that a total of 15 top STPM candidates scored Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.0 with straight As in all the subjects they took.
The top 15 are Liew Jin Ching from SM All Saints, Kota Kinabalu, Lim Chun Yuan from SM All Saints, Kota Kinabalu, Nur Efazainiza Ainie Binti Basri of SMK Tansau, Penampang, Nurapni Binti Juraini from SMK Tansau Penampang, Nurfazirah Binti Yahya from SMK Tansau, Penampang, Sunita Binti Amri (SMK Putatan), Anisah Binti Ibrahim (SMK Membakut II), Chong Kah Meng (St Mary Sandakan), Nurfaizah Binti Mohamad (St. Mary, Sandakan), Liza Binti Gaffar (SMK Batu Sapi, Sandakan), Dian Megasari Binti Kinas (SMK Tawau), Lo Ai Lu (SMK Kuhara, Tawau), Suhanah Binti Abdul Mohammad (SMK Bugaya, Semporna), Sulaiman bin Muhtar (SMK Tagasan, Semporna), and Fatimah Binti Haasan Amir (SMK Kunak Jaya).
Alip said Liew Jin Ching who emerged the top student in STPM 2013 is also the best student in the Arts Stream while Chong Kah Meng of St. Mary's, Sandakan emerged as top student in the Science stream.
On subjects, he said a total of 19 subjects showed a lot of improvement while two subjects - Literature in English and Chemistry- dropped in terms of passing percentage compared to 2012.
Meanwhile, Membakut assemblyman Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif said he was very proud with the achievement of SMK Membakut and SMK Bongawan for obtaining 100 per cent passes in the STPM 2013.
He said the feat of both schools is in tandem with a slogan in the Kimanis parliamentary area comprised of Membakut and Bongawan which is 'Membangun Dengan Ilmu' (Developing with Knowledge).
Arifin, who is also Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, said there are 22 primary schools and three secondary schools in his constituency that he visited two to three times a year in each school to ensure problems are addressed.