How Your Personality Effects Your Grades

There are countless factors that have an effect on how well a student does in school. Motivation, IQ, and social-economic status are just a few that typically first come to mind. One factor that may often times be overlooked, however, is PERSONALITY.

The Big 5

Psychologists who study personality often are guided by a theory of personality known as the “Big 5 Theory.” This theory describes 5 traits of personality that tend to remain the same through all situations, or considered the most “stable.” The Big 5 are: conscientiousness, openness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

What The Studies Show

Some psychologists studying this topic first hypothesized that students whose personalities were strong in openness would have the best grades in school because they would be curious, and wanting to learn new things. This has proved UNTRUE. In fact, studies show that students with traits strongest in conscientiousness tend to have the best grades in school. Studies also suggests that neuroticism may, in some instances, also be linked to better grades.


Someone who has a personality that is highly conscientious is eager to please. So, aspects like getting to class on time and meeting deadlines would be important to them. Some one who has a strong trait of neuroticism is usually worried and fearful. So, those people would be very driven to get the right answers, or make sure they follow the directions. Being on time and following the rules are often times what are rewarded in school, especially in early schooling.

The Implications

  • Both conscientiousness and neuroticism are traits that are typically stronger in girls. Therefore, we are seeing trends of girls doing better in school than boys because girl’s personality traits are working in their favor in terms of education.

  • There have been some experts who think personality tests maybe a stronger indicator of how well a student will do in college than the SAT.

  • There is a need for education to be more individualized so that students with all different personalities have an equal chance at success.

  • It is advantageous to understand what kind of personality you have, and figure out what kind of learning styles you have. Perhaps this will help you figure out what kind of major you should have, or what school you should go to. When you know your learning style and personality you can also communicate to your instructor your needs.

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