Almost 56,000 students have received their Leaving Certificate results, with three students achieving nine A1s.

An increase in the numbers opting for the Higher Level Maths paper was anticipated, but a surge of 35% more than last year exceeded expectations.

More than 11,100 candidates sat the paper this year, up from 8,235 in 2011.

Almost all of them (98%) will benefit from an additional 25 bonus CAO points because they achieved a D3 or higher in the subject.

There was an 11% increase in students opting for the Higher Level Irish paper.

This is as a result of changes made to how marks are awarded.

Spoken ability counted for 40% of marks in the subject for the first time, compared to just 25% in previous years.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn welcomed the increase in the number of students sitting Higher Level Maths.

Mr Quinn rejected fears that the introduction of bonus points for the subject could distort the CAO system.

The minister said the new bonus points had done exactly what they had set out to do and incentivised young people to take the Higher Level paper.

Responding to the 11% increase in the number of students taking Higher Level Irish, the minister said the principle of incentivising the spoken language was correct.

He said he agreed with the decision of his predecessor, Mary Hanafin, to introduce this change.

Asked about concerns that students are rote learning prepared answers for their oral examinations, Mr Quinn said that if the new system was capable of being "gamed" then that would have to be looked at.

He said if there were distortions then they would have to be removed.

The increase in students sitting Higher Level Maths has also been warmly welcomed by Engineers Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Director General John Power said the benefits of this would be felt across the Irish economy.

Mr Power said: "It is not just important for the engineering profession, this is important for Ireland.

"Our ultimate objective, obviously, must be to create jobs for people and, quite clearly, the jobs are in the high-tech sector or the technology sector.

"That's where they're going to come from, and we're delighted as a result of that to see a much higher percentage of people taking the Higher Level Maths."

Employers' group IBEC expressed concern at the poor take-up of science subjects, including Physics and Biology, and the relatively high failure rates in languages.

IBEC's Head of Education Policy Tony Donohue said there was a limited range of modern languages on offer and they were being taught in a disjointed way.