The proportion of GCSE exam students awarded at least a C grade has risen for the first time in three years, official figures show.
Just over 68.8% of exam entries scored A*-C - up 0.7 percentage points on last summer, statistics published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) show.
In maths, 62.4% of students were awarded an A*-C grade - a significant 4.8 percentage points on last year's results.
Exam chiefs suggested that changes to this year's entries, including fewer lower-performing 15-year-olds taking the GCSE early, are behind the hike.
In contrast, 61.7% of English entries scored a C or higher, down 1.9 percentage points from last summer.
The drop - believed to be the biggest in the qualification's history - could be down to strong candidates taking advantage of the chance to sit the exam last winter, the JCQ suggested.
The proportion of entries awarded an A* - the highest grade - has dropped to 6.7% from 6.8% last year. It is the third year in a row that the number of students achieving the top pass rate has fallen.
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