About three per cent of grades awarded to pupils were the highest available in the newly reformed GCSE subjects.
But while a small proportion of pupils got the highest grade 9, in two of the reformed subjects – Maths and English language – a higher proportion achieved between a 7 and a 9 than previously got an A or A* last year.
About 2,000 pupils scored three 9s in all three subjects.
In Maths, 3.5 per cent of pupils achieved a 9. The new grade 9 is intended to be a higher grade than the old A*, and is not comparable. In 2016, 5.7 per cent of pupils were awarded an A* in maths.
But about 20 per cent achieved between a 7 and a 9 in maths, equivalent to A to A*. Last year, just 16 per cent of pupils got an A* or A.
In English literature, 3.3 per cent of pupils got a grade 9. In 2016, five per cent got the lower A* grade.
Meanwhile, about 19 per cent of pupils got the top three grades in English literature. This is slightly under the 2016 results, when 21 per cent got an A* or A.
In English language, 2.6 per cent of pupils got a grade 9, the lowest proportion of the three reformed subjects. In 2016, 3.4 per cent got the lower A* grade.
But 17 per cent of pupils achieved the top three grades in English language, a higher proportion than last year when just 13.5 per cent of pupils got an A or A*.
Of the 51,000 or so grade 9s across the three reformed subjects, two thirds were achieved by girls.
Even though 2,000 pupils managed straight 9s, Tim Leunig, the chief analyst at the Department for Education, predicted earlier this year that “about two” pupils would get straight 9s across the board – although he did mean across all their GCSEs in the future after most subjects move to the numbered system, and was tweeting informally.
The grade 9 was introduced by Ofqual and the DfE as a way to identify the “very brightest pupils”, spokespeople for both bodies have said.
Initially, Ofqual had been planning to award the grade 9 as a kind of “gold standard” to the top 20 per cent of pupils achieving a grade 7.
But following a consultation, Ofqual confirmed in September last year that a new formula would be used to determine how many pupils achieved a 9 instead.
The proportion of pupils getting a 7 in a subject are divided by two, then seven percentage points are added to reveal the proportion of pupils receiving the top grade.
The rule is only to be applied in the first year of the new GCSEs, after which the boundaries will be based on a “mixture of statistics and examiner judgement”.
Only three GCSEs moved this year to the numbered system of 9-1: English language, English literature and maths. Other subjects will follow next year.