Record results in Ulster
Students who sit GCSEs with the province's exam board - the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment - were more likely to win top A* grades than in the UK as a whole: 6.5 per cent of entries resulted in A*s, an increase of 0.9 percentage points, compared with a UK average of 4.6 per cent.
The board's failure rate is marginally above the UK average at 2.2 per cent. But 71.3 per cent of entries resulted in a C grade or better, up from 70 per cent last summer.
The council's' chief executive Gavin Boyd welcomed the improvement acoss all grades. He said: "The steady improvement we have seen this year and in previous years is not only welcome but I believe vital if we are to compete for investment and jobs in the future.
"I would urge all the young people receiving grades today to continue in education or training so that they can play a leading role in the development of a strong, dynamic and prosperous Northern Ireland."
Despite the improved results the Northern Irish board is still losing candidates as more schools choose to enter pupils for English boards' exams.
Just 30,150 students sat 140,386 exams with CCEA this year, down from 31,157 sitting 146,352 last year.