The number of top A-level grades has dipped for the fourth year in a row, while the overall pass rate has risen, official figures show.
The number of boys and girls awarded the coveted A* and A grades narrowly fell from 26% to 25.9%.
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%.
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.
The number of exams taken has also risen by 2% compared with last year, up to 850,749 despite a 1.1% fall in 18-year-olds sitting the tests.
Meanwhile early Ucas figures show a record number of students have been accepted on to degree courses in the UK, with 409,410 taking up places so far - up 3% on the same point last year.
Michael Turner, JCQ's director general, said: "The overriding message from this year's figures is one of stability. There have been no significant changes to the system, results are stable, and entries follow expected patterns.
"Students can be confident that they have received the results they deserve."