The proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade has risen again this year, but top grades have fallen for the fourth year in a row, official figures show.
In total, almost seven in 10 (69%) entries were awarded A*-C, up 0.2 percentage points on 2014.
But there was a 0.1 percentage point drop in A* grades - the fourth year running that there has been a fall - with 6.6% of entries given the highest mark this year.
The national figures, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) also show that the gender gap has narrowed slightly this summer, with 73.1% of girls' entries awarded at least a C grade, compared to 64.7% of boys'.
This is a gap of 8.4 percentage points, compared to 8.8 percentage points last summer.
The statistics also show that the numbers of students taking languages at GCSE has plummeted again, with even Spanish, which has bucked the trend in recent years, seeing a fall in numbers.
Overall, entries for French were down 6.2%, German entries were down 9.2% and Spanish down 2.4%.
Grades for languages have improved though, the JCQ said, suggesting that this could be down to brighter candidates continuing to study the subject.
In the UK, 69% of grades were A*-C, up from 68.8% in 2014. And 98.6% of results were A*-G, up from 98.5% in 2014, and the first rise since the start of a downward trend from 2013 onwards.
England had the lowest overall pass rate (A*-G) at 98.6%, behind Wales (98.7%) and Northern Ireland (99.2%).
JCQ director general Michael Turner said: "At a national level there is very little change in this year's results but we do see educational policies continuing to have an effect on entry patterns and results at a subject level. This is particularly the case in English, mathematics and the sciences."