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Until now, the application of the covariance matrix method for evaluating the selection-combining (SC) diversity performance is restricted to the case of actual antenna systems comprising two elements. In this letter, the method is extended in order to apply to multielement antenna (MEA) systems. The performance improvement is evaluated using the effective diversity gain (EDG). Usually, EDG is measured in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) enhancement at a specific outage probability. EDG, however, can also be measured in terms of the SNR reduction for achieving a specific average bit error rate (BER). Both EDG expressions are presented and evaluated for a compact MEA system comprising three printed inverted-F antennas (IFAs).