A prospective study explored the relationship between personality traits (as defined by the five factor model), type of motivation (as defined by self-determination theory), and goal-specific cognitions (including those specified by the theory of planned behaviour) as antecedents of degree performance amongst undergraduate students. A sample of 125 students completed a questionnaire two to three months before their final examinations. Structural equation modelling was used to explore relationships. Intention and perceived behavioural control explained 32% of the variance in final degree marks, with intention being the strongest predictor. Controlling for theory of planned behaviour variables, anticipated regret, good-student identity, controlled extrinsic motivation, Conscientiousness, and Openness had direct significant effects on intention. In total, 65% of the variance in intention was explained. The resultant model illustrates how personality traits may affect examination performance by means of mediators such as intention, anticipated regret, student identity, and autonomous intrinsic motivation. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.