A higher proportion of English and maths GCSEs were awarded top grades this summer.
National GCSE results show that a fifth of entries for English Literature and maths scored at 7 or above, along with around one in six English entries.
Boys outperformed girls for top grades in maths, but girls significantly surpassed their male classmates in the two English GCSEs.
The figures cover 16-year-olds in England only.
Maths and English GCSEs moved to the new numerical grading system last summer, meaning it is now possible to make year-on-year comparisons for this group of students.
Overall, 17.5% of entries scored at least a grade 7 – broadly equivalent to an A grade – in GCSE English, up from 16.8% in 2017.
In English literature, 20.0% of entries was awarded a 7 or above, up from 19.1%.
And in GCSE maths, 20.0% got at least a 7, up from 19.9% last year.
A gender breakdown shows that for the second year, boys scored more of the highest grades in maths than their female peers, with 20.9% of boys’ entries awarded 7-9, compared to 19.1% for girls.
But the picture is reversed in the two English subjects.
Almost twice as many girls’ entries were awarded at least a 7 in English than boys’ (22.5% compared to 12.6%), while in English literature, one in four (25.8%) of girls’ entries gained a 7 or above compared to 14.1% for boys.
At the grade 4 boundary – broadly equivalent to a C, girls outperformed boys in all three GCSEs.