Around one in eight teenagers scored at least three A* or A grades at A-level this summer, official figures show.
But the numbers achieving the equivalent of at least two passes fell to 92.7%, compared with 94.8% the year before, according to statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE).
In total, 12.8% of A-level candidates aged 16-18 were awarded three or more A* or A grades, the figures show.
Boys scored more top grades than girls for the second year running, the figures show. Some 13.1% of boys scored three or more A grades or above, compared to 12.5% of girls. One in five teenagers (20.4%) were awarded two A grades and a B.
The statistics show that three times as many private school pupils are achieving three or more top grades than those educated in the state sector. In total, 31.8% of private school pupils scored at least three A* or A grades, compared to 10.9% of those who went to state schools.
The statistics show that three times as many private school pupils are achieving three or more top grades than those educated in the state sector.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said these figures were "astonishing".
"We must close this gap - which is why we are driving up teaching standards across the profession and developing a world-class curriculum for all," he said.
Meanwhile, rising numbers of teenagers are scoring five good GCSEs including English and maths, DfE figures show.
Almost six in 10 youngsters (58.3%) achieved five C grades or higher, including the two core subjects, this summer. This is a 4.8% rise on last year, when 53.5% achieved this threshold.