Some candidates gained as many as 11 A*s, the top grade, and some as young as nine secured good passes. The proportion of entrants gaining grades A-C, the equivalent of the old O-level, was up by 1 per cent. More than one in fivenow secure a good pass. Overall, the proportion of entries getting an A* is 3.4 per cent.
In some households there were double celebrations. Ronan Astin heard that he had scored 11 A*s in GCSE just a week after his brother, Ciaran, got five A grades at A-level.
Ciaran, who will read engineering at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, got his As in maths, physics, chemistry, history and general studies. The two boys attend fee-paying St Ambrose College, Altrincham, Cheshire.
Catherine Astin, the boys' mother, said: "It is absolutely amazing. We still haven't come down from the clouds from last week.
"We haven't put pressure on them. We have never had to tell the boys to work. You don't get those kind of results unless you work hard."
Mrs Astin is a primary school teacher and her husband a deputy head. Ronan is likely to follow in his brother's footsteps and take sciences. His younger brother will take GCSE next year.
Ronan said: "I did work hard but I also have the school and my parents to thank for their help and support. I don't work all the time. I play the guitar, football and I swim."
In Sheffield, a 16-year-old, an 11-year-old and their mother all sat GCSE French together. Hafren Williams, aged 11, a pupil at High Storrs comprehensive scored an A* and so did her mother. Her brother got a B.
Hafren took her French GCSE after spending six months on an exchange in France during her last year at junior school. Janet Williams, her mother, who teaches social work at Sheffield Hallam University, speaks Italian but decided she needed to brush up her O-level French.
Mrs Williams said: "Hafren is fluent. She sounds French and I don't. When she was in France, her teacher said that her grammar was as good as the best French pupils in the class."
Hafren said: "I hope to do AS-level French and to learn Spanish alongside the fourth-years next year."
Other schools reported students with 11 A*s. At Thomas Tallis School, a comprehensive in Greenwich, south London, Susanna Goldschmidt achieved 11 A*s and Katherine Joyce 10 A*s and 2 A grades.
Robert Harland at Tonbridge school in Kent also got 11 A* grades.
Nine-year-old Chantelle Naraine and 10-year-old Radhika Radia achieved B grades in computing. Both attend Northwood Computer Tutorial College in north-west London.
Dr Ron Ryde, college director, said: "Children can learn anything if they are properly motivated. Age should not be either a bar or a passport to success. It should just be ability."
Charlotte and Victoria Maltby, identical 16-year-old twins, who attend Colyton Grammar School, Devon, achieved exactly the same top grades in the same subjects: they had starred A grades in biology, chemistry, geography and English literature and As in English language, French, German, maths and physics. Both scored B in music.
Another pair of twins, Jonathan and Matthew Beatham from Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex, achieved 22 A grades between them, including 16 A*s.Reuse content