Good Grades are Mostly Determined by Self-Control

I am often asked by parents what type of skills are critical for success in school.  They hear about special programs or techniques for reading, note taking or math skills and want to know if they work.   That is why I am always on the lookout for scientific research that probes how the mind’s of high-performing students work.

For example, recent research on nearly 700 German eighth graders suggests that a student’s level of self-control is the number one factor that determines success.  It is more important than memory, general intelligence, verbal ability, mental speed, numerical ability and even creativity.  The researchers claim:

“The data show that the most important factor in getting good school grades was the student’s score on psychological tests of self-control. Cognitive ability was the next best predictor of grades, but in fact, it was not a very strong one.”

While not a surprise to readers of the Next Brain Blog, this is an important finding. Delaying gratification, managing procrastination and the ability to structure and manage time are the capacities that students need for success.

I am interested to hear from readers with insights into how to be an effective student. What learning and testing taking skills are critical and how can we develop them?