London (AFP) - The proportion of GCSEs awarded top marks rose this year despite a major overhaul of the exam system, official figures showed Thursday.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said 68.8 percent of entries achieved A*-C grades, up 0.7 percentage points on last summer.
But there was a fall in the overall A*-G pass rate for a second straight year, down 0.3 percentage points to 98.5 percent, and a slight dip in the proportion of entries receiving A* grades.
In English, 61.7 percent entries scored a C or higher, down 1.9 percentage points but there was a 4.8 percentage-point spike for maths.
England's exams regulator, Ofqual had earlier cautioned schools over likely "variability" in results after significant changes were introduced to the qualifications, including a move towards end-of-course exams.
Ahead of the results, Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said both teachers and students had worked hard to achieve the results despite the "constantly shifting exam goal posts".
"We are getting some individual reports of volatility, but we don't know about overall trends yet," said Lightman.
"The constant piecemeal changes to GCSE exams are making it increasingly difficult for schools to prepare for GCSE exams and to accurately predict what students will achieve."
"If the government wants to do its part to help young people get the education they need to succeed in life, it must stop this obsession with tinkering with exams," he added.