Fewer students achieved top A-level grades for the fourth year in a row but the overall pass rate has risen, figures show.

Some 25.9% of students were awarded the A* and A grades, down from 26%.


students awarded A* and A grades

But the overall pass rate of A* to E grades has recovered after last year falling for the first time in 30 years, and is back to where it was in 2013 at 98.1%.


overall pass rate of A* to E grades

Mathematics remains the most popular subject, accounting for 10.9% of all entries, followed by English (10.5%) and biology (7.4%), the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said.

Girls have again outperformed boys by 1% overall, but boys continued to earn more A* grades for the fourth year running, with 8.7% achieving a top mark compared with 7.8% of girls.

Other key figures:

ITV News Correspondent Damon Green reports:

  • There were 850,749 entrants for the exams, up 2% on last year's total.

  • 8.2% of entrants received an A*, the same figure as last year.

  • The gap between girls and boys receiving the top grades has narrowed to its smallest for at least 10 years. The number of girls who got A or higher was 0.4 percentage points more than the number of boys. In 2005 the gap was 2.4 percentage points.

  • Computing saw the biggest jump in entrants, rising by 29.1% on 2014.

  • South-west England and the East Midlands saw the biggest year-on-year fall in the number of candidates receiving grade A or above, both dropping 0.7 percentage points.

  • Eastern England, north-west England and London were the only regions to see an increase in the number of candidates receiving grade A or above, rising 0.1, 0.2 and 0.4 percentage points respectively.