One in 12 score A-level A* grade
One in 12 A-level exams has been awarded an A* grade as sixth-formers scored another record-breaking year of results.
A total of 69,302 exam entries (8.1%) were awarded the new top grade. This exceeded predictions that around 7% would get an A*.
More than one in four entries (27%) were awarded an A grade - up from 26.7% last year, according to figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications. Overall, the pass rate rose for the 28th year in a row, with 97.6% of entries awarded at least an E, a rise from 97.5% in 2009.
More than 300,000 students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving results, the first year that sweeping changes to A-levels have come into effect.
As well as the new A* grade, students sat four modules instead of six, and answered "stretch and challenge" questions designed to allow them to fully demonstrate their knowledge. To win an A* a student has to score an A overall, plus at least 90% in each of their papers in the second year of their course.
The figures show that girls got more A* grades overall than boys (8.3% compared with 7.9%), but boys got more A* grades in science and maths-based subjects.
Science has seen a resurgence this year with biology entries up 4.3%, chemistry up 3.7% and physics up by 5.2%. The numbers taking maths continued to rise, with an extra 4,526 entries and an extra 1,209 for further maths.
But modern foreign language entries continue to fall, with the numbers entering for French down 3.4% and German down 3.8%. Going against the trend is Spanish, which has seen a 4% increase.
The highest percentage of A* grades was awarded for further maths where 29.9% of the 11,682 candidates received the mark. The lowest percentage of A* grades was awarded in media, film and TV studies where just 1.8% of 33,375 candidates were awarded the top mark - 1.4% of 15,363 boys and 2.1% of 18,012 girls.
Just 7.4% of the 89,320 candidates taking an A-level English exam were awarded A* - 7.5% of 26,927 boys and 7.3% of 62,393 girls.