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Abstract

British university students (N = 247) completed the NEO-PI-R (Costa & McCrae, 1992) personality inventory at the beginning of their course and took several written examinations throughout their three-year degree. Personality super-traits (especially Conscientiousness positively, and Extraversion and Neuroticism negatively) were significantly correlated with examination grades and were found to account for around 15% of the variance. Primary traits were also examined and results showed significant correlations between a small number of these traits (notably dutifulness and achievement striving positively, and anxiety and activity negatively) and academic achievement. Furthermore, selected primary personality traits (i.e. achievement striving, self-discipline, and activity) were found to explain almost 30% of the variance in academic examination performance. It is argued that personality inventory results may represent an important contribution to the prediction of academic success and failure in university (particularly in highly selective and competitive settings). Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.