Students taking A levels in Northern Ireland have once again outperformed their counterparts in England and Wales at grades A - A*
Almost 30 per cent received the coveted higher marks, with pupils performing well in sciences, maths and art and design.
A rise in the number of pupils taking film or media studies was linked by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) to the filming of the Game Of Thrones fantasy drama in Northern Ireland and other high profiles projects.
However the number of political studies A-level entries over the one year was down by a fifth, a decrease of 223.
Results overall remained fairly stable, with a slight increase in the percentage receiving the top A* grade, rising to 7.3 per cent, JCQ said. That compares to 8.2 per cent across Northern Ireland, England and Wales.
At A*-A there was a slight increase of 0.8 per cent from last year to 29.9 per cent. That compares to 26 per cent averaged across Northern Ireland, England and Wales.
Almost half of maths entrants in Northern Ireland achieved that standard. Across the board, girls again outperformed boys in winning top grades.
The most popular A-level subjects overall included biology, maths, religious studies, history and English.
Stormont education minister John O’Dowd said: “Every pupil is different and they stand the best chance of succeeding if they follow courses that interest and inspire them.
“Pupils here continue to perform particularly well and I am delighted to see STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects such as biology and maths ranking amongst the most popular choices for pupils.”
Teachers and pupils at the Model School for Girls in north Belfast were celebrating a great set of results.
Joint acting principal Heather Mairs said: “The girls have achieved what they wanted to achieve to get into university or further education. There is plenty of advice and guidance available and that is why we are here today.
“This is always a very exciting day for the school. We have a good percentage of girls going to university.”
Assistant principal Paula Leitch said: “The school motto is ‘achievement for all’ and we are delighted today that the girls have realised this for themselves - that we lots of girls going to range of universities, both in Northern Ireland and across the water.”
At Ballyclare High School in Co Antrim, Alexandra Graham said she is sad to leave the school but looking forward to the university experience.
“I’m going to Cardiff to study optometry, I got three A grades in biology, chemistry and maths - I’m very happy with that.”
The school’s top female performer was Cathy McCalmont who achieved one A* grade and three A grades in maths, physics, biology. French.
“I’m really looking forward to going to St Andrew’s in Scotland to study maths and physics. It’s really exciting and been worth all the hard work,” she said.
Stewart Gault, who is an Irish schools’ 400m runner, will be studying at either Queen’s in Belfast or Trinity in Dublin and hopes to find time for running as well as his academic work.
“I got three As and a B in biology, chemistry, history and politics. I’ve had a fantastic time at Ballyclare High but I’m looking forward to university. It won’t be easy but I don’t want to give up athletics,” he said.