Published Thursday, 16 August 2012
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Almost 32% of students achieved A*-A this year after a record number of exam entries.
According to statistics from the Joint Council for Qualifications, 31.9% took grades A*-A compared with 34.5% last year and 35.9% in 2010.
Since 2008, exam entries in Northern Ireland have risen by close to 3,000.
This year there were 32,908 entrants compared with 32,582 last year, and 7.7% earned A* this year compared with 8.6% in 2011.
The proportion earning grades A*-E remained static at 98.1%.
A widening range of people are now choosing to stay on at school, although some of those extra candidates are getting lower grades.
Anne Marie Duffy, director of qualifications at CCEA, said: "Over time results can fluctuate and this year we have seen a small decrease in the percentage of entries gaining the top grades.
"This is in line with expectations, based on predicted performance for this group of students, and their performance in last year's GCE AS-level exams."
Over the last five years, despite a downward trend in pupil numbers overall, there have been record levels of entries for A-level exams.
The most popular subjects were biology and mathematics. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics saw a growth in popularity, but fewer people studied PE and English.
Meanwhile, the number of students already accepted on to university courses UK wide has dropped by almost 7%, newly released official figures show.
As of midnight, a total of 357,915 applicants had had their places confirmed, down from 384,649 at the same point in 2011 - a fall of almost 7%.
The figures also show that around 79,000 UK applicants are still awaiting decisions, and that more than 10,000 people have already applied for places through clearing.
The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has set up a dedicated examinations helpline offering advice and guidance to those receiving A-Level or GCSE results.
It will be open 9am-5pm weekdays, from Wednesday 18 August to Friday 3 September - telephone 028 9026 1260 or email email@example.com.
Students can log on to the UCAS website from 8am on results day to see if they have been accepted to their chosen course or if they are eligible for Clearing.
CCEA telephone: 028 9026 1260
Formal applications to Clearing courses can be made through UCAS from 5pm on Thursday.