ITV Wales Correspondent Carole Green joined students at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen in Caernarfon as they got their results
This is the first time GCSE students have taken summer exams marked and graded by exam boards since 2019, after two years of grades being determined by schools and colleges.
The percentage of Welsh pupils achieving top grades (A-A*) is down by 3.6% compared to 2021 but 6.7 % higher than in 2019.
Outcomes overall are higher than in 2019, when exams were last sat and overall outcomes for female pupils remain higher than for male entries.
Pass grades of A*-C were achieved by 68.6% of pupils Wales - which is 5.8% higher than 2019 but 5% lower than 2021.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has congratulated young people across Wales.
Mr Miles said: "You should all be proud of your hard work through the disruption of the last two years. I welcome these results as we transition back to exams this year – it’s great to see what our learners have achieved.
"Don’t be too disappointed and don’t be too hard on yourself if things didn’t quite go to plan today. There are a range of options available to you, whether you’re unsure what to do next, or perhaps you didn’t sit your exams. Get in touch with Careers Wales or your school for support.
“Everyone under 25 has the opportunity to enrol in education or training, find work or become self-employed through our Young Person’s Guarantee. Take a look at Working Wales online to find out how to get involved.
“I hope you are pleased with your achievements and pob lwc on your next steps.”
One school which was plunged into special measures just a month ago, is celebrating its best ever GCSE results.
Headteacher of Ysgol Rhosnesni High School in Wrexham Andy Brant, said: "Despite the disruption and uncertainty of the past two and a half years, our Year 11 cohort has achieved the highest outcomes we have ever witnessed - 28 students gained at least five A* or A grades, with an unprecedented 31 A*'s in mathematics. More youngsters achieved an A*- C grade in English Language than at any point in our history."
In Wales, the most popular subject choices are unchanged from 2021, except Art and Design related subjects have moved down from eight into tenth position.
Health and Social Care has seen the biggest increase of entries, up 32.8%.
There were a total of 311,072 GCSE entries this year - down 5.4% from 2021.
The Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister, Laura Anne Jones MS, also congratulated students but criticised the Welsh Government on education standards.
She said: "As was the case with A-levels, results are down on last year, but up on 2019 levels. However, it is a terrible shame that once again Wales lags behind the rest of the UK for the top grades and more worryingly that the pass rate was considerably lower than elsewhere.
"Nearly 5% fewer students passing their exams represents an atrocious deficit, stemming from the Labour Government’s failure to deliver satisfactory education standards.
"We already knew that our schooling system bottom of the UK league table, but these results mean fewer Welsh students will have the opportunity go on to sixth form and pursue academic subjects than elsewhere in the UK."