The top performing local authority school in the city was Dorothy Stringer, where 65% of pupils picked up the benchmark of five A* to C grades including English and maths, despite dropping from 72% last year.
Headteacher Richard Bradford admitted the drop in grades was larger than the school thought it would be.
He said: “This day was always going to be difficult. We have not seen many tears but we have seen tears of joy.
“Every year group is different and lots of factors affect results.”
Despite the drop, he said A* grades had “gone up hugely” and the school saw 36 pupils achieve eight or more grades at A or A*.
Mr Bradford said: “The students have worked really hard and achieved a lot.
“I do not think our staff could have done any more.
“It is the support staff and parents give that is critical. The parents have been hugely supportive.”
One of Stringer’s star pupils was Lucy Fellingham, who was delighted with her nine A* grades on top of an A at AS maths in which she averaged 98% across her three papers, despite taking them a year early.
She will attend BHASVIC next year and has her sights set on studying a maths-based subject at uni.
Hayden McCarthy, 16, bagged four A*s, one A, three Bs and a C grade and is shortly off to the Taekwondo 2014 World Cup in Jamaica.
Brighton College was the best performing school in the county again, maintaining its 100% pass record.
After last week’s record-breaking A-level results, 88% of GCSE grades came back as A* or A and 99.2% were A* to B.
A total of 881 A* grades were achieved by pupils, making it the most common grade at the school.
Siena Wigley, from Hove, achieved 11 A* grades plus one A grade. Louie Gray, from Brighton, also gained 11 A*s.
Headteacher Richard Cairns said: “I am delighted that Brighton College pupils have again outperformed every other school in the county but I am even more thrilled by the individual success stories.
“It is especially rewarding to see those for whom academic studies were never easy celebrating A* and A grades today.
“I take my hat off to them.”
The state school in Brighton and Hove which saw an increase in the number of students achieving the benchmark was Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA).
Headteacher Dylan Davies celebrated his school’s fourth consecutive year of improvement with maths results at an all-time high for a third year and 82% of students securing A* to C in English.
He said: “This is another great news story for BACA and we are very proud of the individual success stories of our students.
“The English and maths improvements and the progress shown by our students really tell a story of the committed and hard-working students, teachers and staff at our academy.”
Sister-school PACA did not have a repeat of the huge 21% benchmark swell of last year, but the school was in a healthy state as 76% of students achieved an A* to C in English against the national average of 61.7%. 69.3% gained A* to C grades in maths compared to 62.4% nationally.
Headteacher James Fox said: “With the change in the exam regime this year, we’re delighted to have held our own with the other schools in the city in a high-performing authority.
“Obviously we’re not resting on our laurels and we’ll be analysing our results to actually make sure that next year we do make another improvement based on the new framework the government has set out.
“We need to prepare our students for universities and the world of work, so we need to be rigorous as to how we test them and we need to be transparent – which we are here at PACA.
“I fully support the change and I think it’s a good thing.”
Brighton and Hove High School’s students celebrated with 58% of all results at A* or A and a pass rate of 97% A* to C.
Headteacher Jennifer Smith said: “The governors and I are delighted with our girls’ success. They have worked tremendously hard and it is well-deserved.
“With the impending demise of AS Levels, GCSE results are becoming more important than ever in terms of university entrance and so I am really pleased by the girls’ results – over a third of them achieved nine or more A* or A grades in challenging subjects.”
After a turbulent few months, Derek Trimmer’s Hove Park saw only a small dip in the benchmark figure and he said: “It has been an interesting year in education.
“In the autumn the government stopped schools from being able to count the best entry in an exam and replaced it with the grade the first time an exam was sat.
“It will be difficult for parents to understand which schools have done well and which schools have struggled.
“The previous system encouraged schools to concentrate on intervention with C or D-grade students. This resulted in students who were able to pass exams but did not have the necessary skills for a successful future.”
Nearby Blatchington Mill saw a 13 percentage point drop in students achieving five A* to C grades including English and maths, but more A* and A grades were given out than ever before.
Headteacher Janet Felkin said: “Our staff and students have worked extremely hard to achieve these wonderful grades.
“These students have achieved more top grades than ever before.
“We knew the changes to league tables this year would not allow us to compare favourably to last year but considering student success individually demonstrates a very positive picture indeed.”
More than seven out of ten students at Cardinal Newman gained five or more A* to C grades.
Friends Chris Mottram, Nico Matthews and Alfie Hall achieved 34 A*s and two As between them.
Haydn Stride, the headteacher of Longhill High School, said: “In context, nationally this is a good set of results.
“I am cautiously pleased with our exam results this year.”
Mr Stride said the results showed a closing of the gap between Longhill and national figures for attainment.
He said: “The fall in attainment at a national level within English was a feature of our results also, however to a lesser degree than most schools.
“The change in the examination format and other elements, such as early entry changes, made by the Government across the last two years, is, I believe, the most significant feature of the impact upon English.”
Paula Sargent, the headteacher of Patcham High School, said: “We are disappointed with the drop in percentage of high grades but it is much in line with the national picture of volatility this year.
“There has been turbulence in the system but that is out of our control.
“Having said that we have a record number of A*, A and B grades.”
Varndean School suffered the biggest drop in the benchmark figure.
It plummeted from 64% last year to 49% this year, but headteacher William Deighan said: “This year saw many individual success stories and I would like to thank staff students and their families for the their hard work in achieving these.”