The proportion of A-level entries being awarded top A* and A grades has fallen slightly this year to 25.9% of entries, down from 26% last year.
In a year of "stable" results, overall passes (A*-C grades) rose marginally by 0.1 percentage point to 98.1%. The proportion getting the very top A* grade remained the same at 8.2%, with A grades down by 0.1%.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said the results showed the impact of the government's drive for "core academic subjects" with a 20% increase in maths entries since 2010. Traditional subjects such as geography and history have also seen strong growth in numbers, but computer science has seen the biggest increase.
With caps on the number of students at each university being removed, record numbers have been accepted on university courses. The Ucas university admissions service said that 409,000 places had already been confirmed, up 3% on last year.
Michael Turner, director of the Joint Council for Qualifications, pointed out "The over-riding message from this year's figures is one of stability. There have been no significant changes to the system."
"As a result thousands more pupils, from all backgrounds, are studying subjects that will secure them a place at a top university or an apprenticeship and that will help to secure well paid employment," said Mr Gibb.
Chris Keates, leader of the NASUWT teaching union, said that the results showed that the "gold standard" A-level system had been maintained, despite the pressure on schools to prepare for forthcoming changes to exams.
But this year's lifting of the cap on university places in England has seen more students than ever accepted on to courses.
Northern Ireland A-Level students achieved slightly fewer A and A* grades compared with last year, but still outperform England and Wales. The Joint Council for Qualifications said that 29.3% of Northern Irish entries achieved A or A* grades, a drop from 29.9% last year. Mathematics is also becoming a very popular subject for A-Level students in the province, with a 10.6% rise in the number of girls taking maths at A-Level in Northern Ireland.
But maths saw a fall in the number of students being awarded the top A* and A grades as did the science subjects and English.
This year's relatively stable results come before a period of major transition for the "gold standard" A-Level. First teaching for the new A-Levels in some subjects begins this year. For other subjects it will be 2016, and for Maths and Further Maths the new syllabus will be taught in September 2017 for the first time.