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Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1027/1614-0001/a000182

Abstract. Much research has demonstrated that intelligence and conscientiousness have a high impact on individual school achievement. To figure out if other noncognitive traits have incremental validity over intelligence and conscientiousness, we conducted a study on 498 eighth-grade students from general secondary schools in Austria. Hierarchical regressions for three criteria (GPA, science, and languages) were performed, including intelligence, the Big Five, self-discipline, grit, self-efficacy, intrinsic-extrinsic motivation, and test anxiety. Intelligence and conscientiousness alone accounted for approximately 40% in the variance of school achievement. For languages and GPA, no other personality and motivational predictors could explain additional variance; in science subjects, only self-discipline added incremental variance. We conclude that – in addition to intelligence as powerful cognitive predictor – conscientiousness is the crucial noncognitive predictor for school achievement and should be focused on when supporting students in improving their performance.

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