A total of 34,036 students sat for the exam compared to 33,499 in 2012.
State Education Director Datuk Jame Alip said 18,681 candidates or 54.89 per cent passed all subjects compared to 17,247 candidates or 51.43 per cent in 2012.
"The candidates took 96 subjects and of this, 59 subjects scored 100 per cent passes and 23 subjects fared better than the year before.
"I also noted that the students did well in living skills subjects which was shown in the analysis of the 59 subjects," he said, adding that seven core subjects - Bahasa Melayu, English Language, Mathematics, History, Islamic Education, Science and Moral Education - also continued to improve in terms of quality.
Jame said this when announcing the SPM 2013 results at Sekolah Menengah Agama Kota Kinabalu (SMAKK) at Bukit Padang here on Thursday.
In addition, the results also showed more candidates obtained As in their subjects compared to previously.
He said 376 scored Grade A (A+, A and A-) in all subjects compared to only 199 in 2012, accounting for an increase of 177.
"We have used a new approach of assessment by identifying candidates with excellent results by scoring A+ (super distinction) in comparison to the previous year that included A and A- in the assessment.
"As a result, only seven out of 376 candidates scored A+ and they are categorised as the top and best students with excellent results based on Individual Average Grade (GPI)," he said. They are Lee Ao Lik of SM St Patrick, Tawau who scored 11A+, followed by Marxmillan Owell Borinus from SM St Michael, Penampang, and Lo Kar Men of SM Lok Yuk, Kota Kinabalu both having scored 10A+ in their respective results.
The remaining four scored 9A+ each, namely Joanne Chin of SM Ken Hwa Keningau, Aina Farzana Binti Abd.Rait, Asiah Hanida Binti Burhaniddin and Mohd Irsyad Bin Said, all from Sekolah Menengah Sains Kota Kinabalu here.
As for top schools that scored 100 per cent passes, he said the performance was not gauged based on the number of students who passed all subjects but on the achievement in each subject.
"Based on our analysis, we identified 10 schools in Sabah that have showed good progress and improvement based on their respective School Average Grade (GPS) compared to 2012.
"The lower the GPS value, the better the performance or the achievement of the said school. The 10 top schools with improved results are Sekolah Menengah Sains, Kota Kinabalu from 2.00 (2012) to 0.97 (2013), followed by Sekolah Menengah Sains Lahad Datu from 1.88 to 1.64, SMAKK from 3.99 to 2.49, SMK Agama Inanam from 3.78 to 2.52, SM St Michael, Penampang from 3.12 to 2.55, SM All Saints, Likas from 3.86 to 2.82, SM Lok Yuk, Likas from 3.70 to 3.05, SM St. Francis Convent (M) Kota Kinabalu from 4.07 to 3.23, Sekolah Menengan Ugama Islamiah Tawau from 3.84 to 3.25 and SMK Agama Limauan, Kimanis from 4.16 to 3.40," he said.
On overall results, Jame said the assessment was based on the State Average Grade (GPN) with lower value as the better achievement where SPM 2013 showed a 5.30 GPN as the best performance for the past five years since 2009.
He said the State's SPM result in 2009 was 5.88, 5.67 in 2010, 5.51 in 2011, 5.59 in 2012 and finally improved to 5.30 last year.
Meanwhile, SM Ugama Islamiah Tawau remains among the top 10 schools after achieving 100 per cent passes. Its Principal, Hasni Hussin said for five years in a row the school was listed as one of the best in Sabah.
"The school average grade stated 3.25 with an increase of 0.59 and the 100 per cent passing subjects are Bahasa Melayu, English, Mathematics, Science, History, Quranic and Sunnah Education, Tasawwur Islam, Additional Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics whereas Arabic language, Islamic and Syariah Education and Economy scored 93.33 per cent," he said.
There were four best students namely Abdul Sukur Japri, Amanatul Hamizah Zulkaply, Muhd Syafie Asyraf and Siti Azimah Yunus who scored 8As. Besides, The school through the announcement of Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) on January 21 had received best results in Sabah with the passing average of 76.19 per cent.
"This is the first result we received because STAM subjects were only introduced in the school in 2013," he said, adding the school currently has four teachers. "There are a lot of students who applied to the school despite the lack of facilities.
The school also needs a new building with the increase in students as it is an old school of about 40 years."
Hasni applied for allocations earlier and is currently waiting for a response. "We have about 283 students and 23 teachers," he said.