Increasing numbers of students have opted to study traditional subjects such as science and maths, seen as more challenging, official data showed on Thursday.
The data also showed that pass rates fell for the first time in 32 years, potentially linked to changes in subjects choices and the axing of a January exam session that gave students a chance to sit tests twice.
Maths is now the most popular A-level subject, and the numbers taking further maths rose by 1.5 percent.
Students who chose to study biology, chemistry and physics were up 2 percent.
“They’re looking at their future careers,” said Lesley Davies of Pearson UK.
“They know where these jobs are going to be so it’s worth their while really putting the effort in and taking those subjects they might find more challenging to make sure they’re competitive.”
Education Minister Nicky Horgan praised the trend.
“I’m delighted to see more students, especially young women, studying maths and sciences,” Morgan said.