With A-level results out, the debate over whether they are being dumbed down has returned.
This year saw the introduction of an A* grade for the first time.
Ofqual said it would bring A-levels and GCSEs into line with the world's hardest exams in a bid to restore employers' confidence in the qualifications.
Many more students have applied for university places this year, with the 660,000 applicants up 11% on last year's figures.
Ministers attribute the rise to the recession, with a brutal jobs market encouraging students to spend three years in university.