NINETY eight per cent of Gwent's pupils passed their A-levels with flying colours this year, while across Wales sixth formers and college students have achieved the highest number of A* grades since it was introduced in 2010.

Around six per cent of Welsh students got A* grades last year compared to 6.7 per cent this year, with those getting A*-A grades up from 22.9 per cent last year, to 23.3 per cent.

The number of A-level exam entries was down 0.6 per cent this year at 35,492 with an overall pass rate of 97.5 per cent. In Newport the drop in entries was 11.3 per cent from last year, or 166 entries.

Apart from the highest A* grade, girls continued to outperform boys in Wales, with 98.1 per cent girls getting A*-E grades, compared to 96.7 per cent of boys.

In Gwent, Monmouthshire topped the table for pass rates with 99 per cent, followed by 98.4 per cent in Torfaen, 98.13 per cent in Caerphilly, 98 per cent in Newport and 97.7 per cent in Blaenau Gwent.

Across Wales there were 53,097 subject entries for AS level compared with 50,221 last year after the January AS exams were scrapped.

Fewer students sat Welsh Second Language at both A and AS level, but more entered for Welsh First Language at AS level and there was a record number of 10,666 entries for the Advanced Level Welsh Baccalaureate this year, up 334 or 2.9 per cent on 2013.

Education minister Huw Lewis said next year will see the first graded outcomes for the Advanced level Welsh Baccalaureate.