The proportion of UK GCSE entries gaining top grades has increased for the first time in seven years.
The percentage of entries graded A/7 and above rose to 20.5 per cent – up 0.5 percentage points on 2017. It is the first time the proportion of top grades has increased since 2011.
As well as the number of top grades increasing, this year also saw an increase in entries achieving a standard pass of C/4 and above.
The proportion of entries achieving this benchmark rose from 66.4 per cent last year to 66.9 per cent.
However, there was a slight fall in entries graded G/1 and above, which decreased from 98.4 per cent in 2017 to 98.3.
New GCSE grading system
This year more pupils in England have been awarded qualifications under the government’s new 9-1 grading system.
The 9-1 grades were introduced for the first time last year in England's tougher reformed maths, English language and English literature GCSEs. This year they have been awarded for 20 more subjects.
Grade 1 has been tied to the old grade G, grade 4 has been tied to the bottom end of the old grade C and grade 7 to the bottom of the old A.
Wales and Northern Ireland have continued to use the A*-G grading system.
Across the Home Nations, Northern Ireland led in terms of top grades, with 29.4 per cent of entries getting an A/7, followed by England on 20.3 per cent and Wales on 18.5 per cent.
Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: “The overall statistics released today show that outcomes and grade boundaries are in line with what exam boards and the regulators expected.
“They show considerable stability at a time of significant reform to the structure and content of GCSEs.”
He added: “There will undoubtedly be a considerable amount of interest in these aggregated results, but that should not detract from congratulating the hundreds of thousands of students receiving their grades today, and wishing them well on their educational journey.”