Published Thursday, 15 August 2013
Just over 30% of almost 33,000 pupils who sat the exams were awarded with A*- A grades, which is fewer than last year when almost 32% of students achieved the top qualifications.
Almost 84% of students in the region achieved A*- C grades, which is unchanged on last year's performance.
The A* grade, which was introduced four years ago, accounted for 7.2% of subject awards.
The overall pass rate for A-Level students rose slightly with 98.2% of pupils awarded passing grades.
Northern Ireland pupils performed particularly well in chemistry, modern languages and mathematics - 46.2% of maths entries achieved the top A* - A grades.
Girls are still outperforming boys but the gap at the highest level has reduced - boys earning A*s stayed at 7.1% while girls earning the grade this year fell by almost one per cent to 7.2%. The gender gap also closed in the overall pass rate.
More than 300,000 pupils across Northern Ireland, England and Wales will receive their grades on Thursday.
The number of top grades awarded as a whole fell for a second year - 26.3% of entries ranked as an A* or A.
It is believed to be the second biggest fall in the history of A-levels.
A number of you will be going onto university, but for some there are other routes to achieving your future goals. I would encourage young people to investigate all options open to them.
Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry
Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry and Education Minister John O'Dowd congratulated students who have received their A and AS level results on Thursday.
Visiting Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey, Mr Farry said: "It is heartening to see so many of our young people achieving the grades they need for their chosen pathways and they deserve our congratulations.
"Sometimes results can mean a change of plan, and we want to let students know that there are still many possibilities and choices available, whether you have done better than expected or not as well as you had hoped.
"My primary advice to anyone in this situation is to remember that help is at hand. My Department's Careers Service has a team of professionally qualified careers advisers offering impartial careers guidance to young people and adults."
Minister O'Dowd added: "Today marks the culmination of many years of hard work by the young people who have received their A-Level results. The level of attainment of pupils in our schools is testament to the work and commitment of parents, teachers and above all the pupils themselves.
"I would like to congratulate everyone who received results today on their achievements."
He added: "Many will have decided on their next steps, whether it be to Further or Higher Education, training or the world of work.
"Others, however, will face decisions on the way ahead following their results, and I would re-assure them that a world of opportunities remain open for them and encourage them to seek advice before making decisions on the next steps.
"Whatever the future holds, I would like to wish all the young people affected the best of luck as they decide on the next step."
Minister Farry offered advice for those who may not follow the university route as they continue their education.
"Our Further Education colleges offer a wide variety of foundation degrees and vocational qualifications and further study may prove beneficial, especially in the current economic times," he said.
"Apprenticeships are another way to develop specialist skills, giving you the chance to earn while you learn and gain qualifications that are recognised worldwide. Taking time now to explore options will pay dividends in the future."
© UTV News