A grades fall
The number of A grades or better awarded at A-level has decreased for the first time in 20 years.
Compared to 2011, the number of A or better awards fell 0.4%, to 26.6% of total grades awarded.
For the first time exams have been set under newly-published rules designed to stop the number of A grades going up year after year, following a warning from Education Secretary Michael Gove that the system was becoming "discredited".
Universities Minister David Willetts said "grade inflation" was a matter for the exam boards, but insisted today was about congratulating the "hundreds of thousands of young people who have worked incredibly hard for their A-levels".
Mr Willetts urged students who fail to obtain the grades needed for university to consider apprenticeships, which he said had been given a "massive boost" by the Coalition.
"We should remember...there’s not always a complete exclusive dilemma between the academic route and the vocational route. People can move between them in their lives," he told the Today programme.
The minister also said the Government was putting power "in the hands of the students" by ending limits on university recruitment at particular grade levels.
Meanwhile, writing in the Times today, former senior DfE official Jon Coles attacks the critics of "grade inflation", and calls for much greater efforts to increase the pass rate for the exams.