National Exam (Indonesia)

National Exam (Indonesian: Ujian Nasional, commonly abbreviated as UNA or UN) is a standard evaluation system of primary and secondary education in Indonesia and the equation of quality of education levels among the areas that are conducted by the Center for Educational Assessment, The Department of Education. The Law of the Republic of Indonesia number 20 of 2003 states that, in order to control the quality of education nationwide to be evaluated as a form of accountability of education providers to the parties concerned. Further stated that the evaluations conducted by independent agencies on a regular basis, comprehensively, transparently, and systematically to assess the achievement of national education standards and the monitoring process evaluation should be done continuously. Evaluation of the monitoring process is carried out continuously and continuous in the end will be able to fix the quality of education. Improving the quality of education begins with the determination of the standard. Determination standards continue to rise is expected to encourage increased quality of education, which is the determination of educational standards is the determination of the limit value (cut-off score). One is said to have passed the exam when it has passed the limit value of the boundary between learners who have mastered certain competencies with learners who have not mastered certain competencies. When that happens on the national exam or school then the boundary value function to separate the students who graduated and did not pass is called the limit of graduation, graduation delimitation activities called standard setting. Benefits of standard setting final exam:

  • The limit of graduation each subject in accordance with the demands of minimum competency.
  • The same standards for each subject as a minimum standard of competency achievement.

It has been proposed to do a computerized version of National Exam, with trials starting in 2015.[1]

In the same year, National Exam is no longer a standard of education completion as it is stated on “PP NO 13 Tahun 2015”.The government policy states that education completion will depend on completing all school learning programs, obtaining at least good on attitude aspect score, and passing the school exam. There is no cut-off score because the newest exam policy is aimed to map Indonesian students’ competency in every single region in Indonesia. The data are going to be analyzed and will be used to make education improvement strategies in Indonesia. [2]


Elementary school (Sekolah Dasar/Madrasah Ibtidaiyah (SD/MI))

Middle school (Sekolah Menengah Pertama/Madrasah Tsanawiyah (SMP/MTs))

  • Indonesian
  • Maths
  • Science (Physics/Biology/Chemistry)
  • English

High school (Sekolah Menengah Atas/Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan/Madrasah Aliyah (SMA/SMK/MA))

Natural scienceIndonesian
Physics, Chemistry, Biology
Social studiesEconomy, Geography, Sociology
LanguageIndonesian literature, History/Anthropology
Foreign Language Other Than English (Mandarin, Japanese, German, French, Arabic)
Religion (MA)Tafsir, Hadith, Kalam, Arabic
Vocational (SMK)History, Vocational Theory, Vocational Practice

National Exam for high school and vocational school students has a big change in 2017. In the previous years, students needed to take 6 subjects (3 compulsory subjects and 3 course related subjects) when sitting for national exam. It was changed by the new Minister of Education in the late 2016. Students are given a chance to choose one subject from 3 course related subjects in 2017 National Exam. Total 4 subjects are objected to allow student gain more focus on studying for the exam.

Moreover the chosen subject does not affect the college major option.[3]

National Education Standards

During this national exam graduation delimitation is determined by agreement between the decision makers only. Limit is determined the same grade for each subject. Whereas the characteristics of subjects and skills students are not the same. It was not a consideration of education decision-makers. Not necessarily in a certain education level, each subject has the same standard as a minimum standard of competency achievement. There are subjects that require a high minimum competency achievement, while other subjects do not specify that high. This situation becomes unfair for students, because the required capacity exceeds the maximum capability.

Standard strategy

Preparation of standard setting begins with the determination of the approach used in setting standards. There are three kinds of approaches that can be used as a reference, namely:

  • Determination of standard based on the general impression of the test.
  • Determination of standard based on the contents of each test item.
  • The determination of standards based on test scores.

At the end of each learning activity is concluded and accounting standard setting based on three approaches to determining the limits of graduation.


Main test

200530 May1 June6 June8 JuneN/A
200616 May18 May22 May24 May
200717 April19 April24 April26 April
200822 April24 April5 May8 May12 May14 May
200920 April24 April27 April30 April4 May8 May
201022 March26 March29 March1 April5 April7 April
201118 April21 April25 April28 April10 May12 May
201216 April19 April23 April26 April7 May9 May
201315 April18 April22 April25 April6 May8 May
201414 April16 April5 May8 May19 May21 May
2015 (paper-based)13 April15 April4 May7 Maydifferent by each province
2015 (computer-based)13 April21 April4 May7 May N/A
2016 (paper-based)4 April6 April9 May12 May
2016 (computer-based)4 April12 April9 May12 May
2017 (SMK)3 April6 April2 May8 May
2017 (SMA and MA)10 April13 April2 May8 May

Cutoff score




The National Exam has been the subject of controversy since it was first established. It became notorious for answer key leakage, cheating, fraud, and corruption. Some argue that the exam is too demanding for students. Schools were forced to allocate more time for preparing the students, putting a significant workload on both teachers and students.

The National Exam failure rate is usually very low. Critics argue that it does not give an accurate portrayal of the Indonesian students' real competency because of problems with cheating and other issues.

The 2010 National Exam fail rate for middle and high school was unusually high. A possible explanation for this sudden increase in failure rate is due to the fact that the test was to be issued in March, giving schools less time for prepare. Additionally, there was an increase question difficulty and the cutoff score was raised. There were National Exam retests held in 2009 and 2010, but any further retests were discontinued the following year.

Some Indonesians call for the abolishment of the National Exam. However, the Education and Culture Ministry have so far defended the National Exam.

There is a site dedicated for groups that advocate the abolishment of the National Exam. It can be found here.[4]

Exam fraud and cheating issues

Cheating is very rampant, because of the huge pressure to passing the exam. Schools and teachers are either ignoring it, encouraging it, or even do it. Examples include using mobile phones to send answers to other students, giving the answer key, either openly or discreetly, and changing the answer on the answer sheet. School principals and teachers has been arrested on that case.

To deter cheating, National Exam question variation had increased for middle and high school, from one to five in 2011, and from five to 20 in 2013. Other measures are inclusion of barcode in 2013 partly to determine question variation codes and to tackle cheating. Even then, cheating still occurs.

Exam material shortage and quality

In 2013, National Exam for high school are delayed in 11 provinces because of printing and packing confusion and errors. It was attributed to increase of question variation. Schools are forced to self-copy the question papers. Some demanded the then-Education and Culture Minister, Mohammad Nuh, to resign.[5]

See also


  1. Abrori, Fajar (26 February 2015). "Menteri Anies: 500 Sekolah Siap Gelar UN Berbasis Komputer" [Minister Anies: 500 Schools are Ready to Hold Computer-Based National Exam]. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  2. "Videografis 2: Mata Pelajaran UN & USBN [Video file]" [Video 2: UN and USBN Subjects]. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. "Mata Pelajaran Pilihan UN Tidak Harus Sesuai Jurusan Kuliah" [Optional Subject for National Exam is not Related to College Major Selection]. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  4. "Tolak Ujian Nasional". Tolak Ujian Nasional (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 18 April 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  5. Ujian Nuh. Jakarta: Majalah Detik 73. 22–28 April 2013.
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