Teenagers have scored another record-breaking year of A-level results, with one in 12 exams achieving an A* grade.
But while the proportion of top grades rose, the percentage of exams scoring at least an A stalled for the first time in 15 years.
In total, 8.2% of entries were awarded an A* this year, up 0.1 percentage points from 8.1% last year, the first year the grade was introduced.
More than one in four (27%) exams achieved at least an A, the same percentage as in 2010. The last time this percentage plateaued was in 1996 and 1997, when 15.7% of exams were awarded at least an A.
Overall this year, the pass rate rose for the 29th year in a row, with 97.8% of A-level entries receiving at least an E - up from 97.6% last summer.
The latest figures, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), also show that boys have closed the gap with girls on A* grades.
Some 8.2% of boys' entries achieved an A* this year, up from 7.9% in 2010. Girls' performance dipped slightly, with 8.2% of girls' entries awarded the top grade, down slightly from 8.3%.
More than 250,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving their A-level results and while many will be celebrating, others still face a scramble to secure a university place.
More than 384,000 would-be students are believed to have already had university applications accepted, according to the latest Ucas figures, while around 185,000 people are eligible for clearing. Both figures are up on last year.
The A-level results were published as Universities Minister David Willetts stressed the importance of "traditional" A-level subjects for university admissions, saying subjects such as dance and media studies should not be recognised as core academic subjects by institutions.