By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent
Pupils could face lower grades in 2022 as Qualifications Wales aligns its approach with England.
By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter
By Megan Lawton
By Bethan Lewis
BBC Wales education and family correspondent
A and A* grades made up 28.7% of those awarded, compared to 18.4% when exams were last held in 2019.
There was lots of celebration at Bruntcliffe Academy in Leeds today.
Lilly (centre) is excited about moving on to sixth form college to study A-levels.
She says she’s most proud of her history grade – she got a 9 and she thought she hadn’t done that well.
She says: "I’m really happy, it’s been such a hard year, you’re even more proud of yourself as it’s not the usual year."
Jenson (right) is also delighted with his results because he says Year 11 has had to isolate three or four times and the disruption caused some issues.
"It made it more nerve-wracking than normal GCSEs because of the gaps in learning and not having enough time to catch up," he says.
Jenson is also going on to sixth form and would like to become a teacher.
- Copyright: Barking and Dagenham College
Heavenly Joy is thrilled to have achieved a merit in her Art and Design BTec Level 2 at Barking and Dagenham College.
Dad Michael is particularly emotional about what his daughter, who is deaf, has achieved.
He says: "I’m so proud, when she was born no one gave her a chance. And to see her today makes me incredibly proud."
She says: "The pandemic has been really hard, but I just kept believing in my dream."
Big Issue seller Clive Rowe has achieved his dream of passing his maths and English GCSEs at the age of 58 and is now planning to go to university.
Mr Rowe took courses at City College Plymouth during the pandemic and attained a 5 in English language and maths.
"This is a massive leap for me. I feel like I've been to Eton or something," he says.
The vendor is now closer to his aim of studying creative arts at university.
Mr Rowe, who sells the magazine outside the Theatre Royal Plymouth, tells The Big Issue: "It's absolutely amazing for me, I've passed both with flying colours.
"I just can't believe I've managed to do it. It is such a massive step up for me. Normally, my life gets better in little stages and little steps at a time, but this is a massive leap for me."
A teenager who survived the Manchester Arena bomb has achieved the GCSE grades she needs to continue her dream of becoming a dancer.
Emily Petty got her results at Carmel College, Darlington, and will go on to study dance at Sunderland's The Worx dance school.
"The dance really helps me as it makes me feel like I am in another world and I can forget about it," she says.
"Carmel has been brilliant, too, and so supportive throughout."
Emily, 16, suffered from PTSD and needed counselling after the 2017 attack at the Ariana Grande concert which killed 22 people.
She says: "We heard a loud bang and just thought it was a balloon but then people started to panic and we could see smoke coming from the foyer."
Her mother adds: "I grabbed her by the scruff of her neck and ran.
"Everyone was pushing and panicking and from what people were saying I was expecting to see terrorists with guns.
"We were crying and a nice man took us back to our hotel because we were lost."
The terror attack, as well as family bereavement, left Emily needing support.
How do we appeal GCSE results? - Elizabeth Ballinger
Eddie Playfair from the Association of Colleges writes:
If you think your results may be incorrect, you need to speak to your college or school in the first instance.
They will do the initial investigation and help you to make your appeal.
There is a helpful guide to the process here for students in England.
Schools and colleges must submit appeals to the relevant exam board by 17 September.