Official GCSE figures released yesterday revealed a rise in the number of pupils achieving top grades.
The proportion of youngsters getting A* to C grades reached 68.8 per cent - up 0.7 percentage points on the previous year.
There were particularly positive results in maths, with 62.4 per cent of entries graded C or above, a rise of 4.8 percentage points.
However, there was a drop in the number of pupils receiving top grades in English, with 61.7 per cent graded C or above - a fall of 1.7 percentage points.
Schools had been warned to expect 'variability' in grades after a number of reforms were made to the exam system.
Perhaps the most significant change was the fall in the number of pupils taking exams early, with only 489,000 being entered at age 15 or under - down from 806,000 last year.
The government claimed the statistics show standards are rising in the education sector and pointed to the continued strong performance of the EBacc as proof its reforms are working.
Schools reform minister Nick Gibb said: "Pupils and parents can feel increasingly confident that the exam system is now working in their favour - that the GCSEs and subjects they are taking are those most valued by colleges, employers and universities, and will help young people to succeed in modern Britain."
According to the Association of School and College Leaders, many institutions had reported greater grade volatility, with the biggest impact being felt by those with disadvantaged students at the grade C/D borderline.
General secretary Brian Lightman said that in order to boost the prospects of those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the government should "implement exam reform in a coordinated, planned way, to a reasonable timetable".
Katja Hall, of the Confederation of British Industry, stated that the reforms have increased "rigour" in the education system but warned about the impact of some changes on youngsters' workplace skills.
Posted by Tim Colman