Thousands of youngsters across the north east were picking up their GCSE results today.
There will no doubt be tears of both joy and disappointment as the Year 11s find out if two years of hard work has paid off.
The teens now face the choices of going on to continue academic studies with A-levels or taking the work-based root into employment with schemes such as apprenticeships and Btecs.
Girls are expected to maintain their dominance over boys across the vast majority of subjects.
Last year’s results showed 73.1% of female students were awarded at least a C grade - generally considered to be a “good” pass - compared with just 64.7% of their male counterparts.
This is the last year in which GCSE results, introduced nearly 30 years ago, will be scored with grades A*-G.
Students who started GCSE courses last September in maths, English and English literature will get the new numbered grades, from 9-1, when they receive their results in the summer of 2017.
The new grades will come in for most other common GCSEs the following year, including the sciences, languages, geography, music and history, which will be taught from September 2016, with exams taken in the summer of 2018.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said: “This apparently minor change masks the most substantial reform in a quarter of a century to the key general qualification offered to learners in England. The content and structure of the new GCSEs are very different from those they are replacing.
“Whatever view is taken of the new GCSEs, it is clear that their implementation has been rushed, poorly thought through and undertaken without meaningful consultation with the teaching profession. The late release of exam specifications and other key information about the new GCSEs has created excessive and wholly avoidable burdens on already overstretched teachers and school leaders.
“Despite all these shortcomings in the way in which GCSEs have been reformed, teachers and school leaders have continued, as ever, to ensure that pupils receive high quality learning experiences and can secure the best possible chance of exam success today.”
Professor Alan Smithers, director of Buckingham University’s Centre for Education and Employment Research, has carried out an annual analysis of predicted grades.
He said: “The results this year will be very close to what they were last year, but the increase in people repeating maths and English could lower the top grades slightly because these candidates are more likely to be aiming for a C.
“Girls are a long way ahead of boys, doing better in 47 of the 49 subjects and being over 15 percentage points ahead in English.”
Today’s results include the largest-ever volume of students resitting English and maths - a 26% increase on last year. The rise comes after stipulations were brought in under the coalition Government that ruled teenagers in England who do not score at least a C grade in both subjects at the age of 16 must continue to study them for a further two years, or until they reach this level.
Professor Smithers said preliminary figures for GCSE entries this year show computing, the sciences, history, geography, Spanish and other modern languages such as Polish and Urdu are on the increase. He said this was due to schools responding to new accountability measures - including comparing pupils against national averages linked to similarly performing students at the end of primary school education - being used for the first time this year.
Entries for French and German have more than halved since 2000. Citizenship studies, performing arts, media studies, leisure and tourism, and hospitality - all subjects which had a lower-than-average chance of an A*-C grade last year - have also experienced a downturn in entries in 2016.