Intelligence Is Not Enough to Succeed, Study Suggests

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. cognitive / ˈkɑːgnətɪv / (adj) – concerning mental activities

    Students can develop cognitive skills such as understanding and analyzing during classes.

  2. verify / ˈverəˌfɑɪ / (v) – to make sure or to check if something is true or correct

    The professor verified the student’s findings by doing additional research.

  3. downplay / ˈdaʊnˌpleɪ / (v) – to make something seem less important or valuable

    The humble scientist tried to downplay his role in the recent medical discovery.

  4. tentative / ˈtɛntətɪv / (adj) – not sure or not certain

    The tentative schedule for the meeting can still change.

  5. grit / grɪt / (n) – mental strength that pushes a person to succeed and not to give up despite challenges

    Her grit enabled her to finish her thesis despite having two part-time jobs.


Read the text below.

A recent study suggests that intelligence or cognitive skills alone are not enough to help a person succeed.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom conducted the study. They examined numerous publications on the effect of non-cognitive skills such as carefulness and perseverance on the success of children aged 12 or below.

Results of the study showed that both cognitive and non-cognitive skills are equally important to achieve academic and professional success.

Lisa Smithers, one of the study’s authors, stated that several published studies verify non-cognitive skills’ link with success in school and improvement of thinking and language abilities. However, this finding does not downplay the importance of cognitive skills.

With this, the researchers recommended that educators provide opportunities for children to develop essential non-cognitive skills like willpower, teamwork, communication, and mindfulness.

On a different note, the researchers believe that they have reached only a tentative conclusion. This is because most of the studies they analyzed provided inconsistent findings. The researchers pointed out that additional research on this topic is needed to come up with more useful and conclusive results.

A similar research on grit, which refers to the ability to stick to a goal over time, tries to prove that intelligence is not the sole factor that determines success.

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania, began studying grit while teaching math to seventh graders. After years of research, Duckworth observed that it was not only intelligence that separated successful students from those who struggled. She noticed that having grit was also a good predictor of success.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that intelligence alone is not enough to succeed in life? Why or why not?
• Aside from those mentioned in the article, what other factors may contribute to a person’s success? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What factors can hinder a person’s success? Discuss.
• How do you think a person can overcome these hindrances?