A-level results, released today, have improved for the 28th year in a row, with one in 12 exams being taken awarded with the new A* grade. The results are likely to fuel speculation that exams are not proving rigorous enough for the students who take them.

Over a quarter of entries received an A grade while the overall pass rate increased for the 28th consecutive year from 97.5 per cent to 97.6 per cent.

The figures show that girls were awarded A*s slightly more than boys, but that boys were awarded more A*s in mathematics and science.

Then number of students taking the sciences rose, with entries for biology up 4.3 per cent, chemistry up 3.7 per cent and physics rising 5.2 per cent.

However the number of A-level students taking modern languages dropped again, with French entries down 3.4 per cent and German down 3.8 per cent.