Record numbers of students scored top grades in their A-Levels today as the Northern Ireland pass rate increased for the 25th year in a row.
The waiting was finally over this morning for 12,500 pupils with the publication of the much anticipated examination results.
Northern Ireland's awarding body, CCEA, has revealed that the percentage of students gaining an A grade has risen by just under 1% to 33.2% and that this improvement has been driven by excellent performances in maths, languages and sciences.
Once again, Northern Ireland students have outperformed their counterparts in England and Wales, while girls have maintained the performance gap over boys.
At grade A, Ulster girls outperformed their male counterparts by 3.9%, while across the A to E grade range the gap is narrower, with girls outperforming boys by 0.6 %.
However, the good news for Northern Ireland boys is that in the top grades they outperform girls and boys in England and Wales.
Commenting on the figures, CCEA Chief Executive Neil Anderson, said: " This year's 0.8% rise in entries gaining the grade A was the smallest increase in Northern Ireland for more than 10 years.
"However, Northern Ireland performance remains well ahead of the rest, with 33.2% of entries gaining a grade A as set against the equivalent national figure of 25.3%.
"The overall A to E pass rate in Northern Ireland is 98% compared to 96.9% nationally."
Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane, and Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, today also congratulated students across Northern Ireland for their excellent performance.
"Congratulations to all the young people involved in achieving these excellent results," said Ms Ruane.
"I believe they are the result of hard work and dedication of our students. They are also a credit to the professionalism and commitment of teachers and parents."
Meanwhile, Sir Reg urged those students who did not achieve their required grades to proceed directly to university to remember other options exist.
"In the changing world in which we live, our economy is undergoing resurgence and requires a skilled workforce to enable us to compete with our European neighbours," he said.
"Not all these skills can be learned at university and equally fulfilling careers can be found outside of the higher education route."
Ulster parents of students who did not get their expected grades were today urged to provide emotional comfort and support to their children in the coming days.
Pip Jaffa, chief executive of Parents Advice Centre, which has offices in Belfast, Londonderry, Dungannon and Ballymena, said that parents must remember to remain as calm as possible if their children do not attain their expected grades.
"Your son or daughter will be upset and this is understandable. He or she will need emotional comfort and practical advice. You will need to sit down with them and look at the situation before deciding on the next steps."
Students were also reminded that Northern Ireland's exam body, CCEA, offers a special accelerated re-marking service for students who feel they deserve a higher grade.
Under the accelerated scheme, students can expect to be informed of the decision within 10 days to ensure that their university applications are not affected.
CCEA has also set up a special helpline to support anxious students and parents which will remain in operation until August 28.
Anyone with any queries regarding CCEA's examination results can call 028 9026 1260, email email@example.com , or log onto the CCEA website www.ccea.org.uk to search for answers from the Frequently Asked Questions section.