The proportion of A-levels scoring at least an A grade has fallen for the first time in more than 20 years, official figures showed today.
In total, 26.6% of the exams were given an A or A*, down from 27% in 2011 - a record drop of 0.4%.
Boys overtook girls at A* grade for the first time, with 8% of boys' entries attaining the top mark, compared to 7.9% of girls'.
But today's figures also show that the overall A* to E pass rate has risen for the 30th year in a row.
98% of exams achieved at least an E, compared to 97.8% last year.