The proportion of GCSEs awarded top grades has risen for the second year in a row after the biggest education shake-up in a generation.
More than one-in-five UK (20.8 per cent) GCSE entries scored one of the top three grades, up from 20.5 per cent last year.
The proportion of entries getting at least a 4 or C grade is also the highest since 2015, up to 67.3 per cent.
Girls continued to hold a lead over boys at the top end of the rankings, with the number of boys who received a 7 or A grade 6.5 percentage points behind the girls.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said results day “marks the culmination of years of hard work”.
“Today is a proud day for students, teachers and parents up and down the country, and I wish them all the very best for their results,” he said.
“It should also be an exciting day. It's a day that marks the culmination of years of hard work and opens doors that can create life-changing opportunities.”
The GCSEs have undergone a major overhaul, with less coursework, and exams at the end of two-year courses rather than throughout the school year.
Traditional A-G grades have been scrapped and replaced with a 9-1 system. A 7 is roughly equivalent to an A grade and a 4 is on par with a C.
Some school leaders remain concerned about the “demoralising” effect of the new grade system.
A poll by the Association of School and College Leaders found eight in 10 members believed the reforms impacted struggling students.
ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said there are still concerns the new system has “sacrificed the interests of the most vulnerable students”.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Exams are an essential part of ensuring that young people have acquired the knowledge and skills they need, but should never be at the expense of a young person's wellbeing.”