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Increasing evidence supports the importance of beliefs in predicting positive outcomes in life. We examined the performance implications of the belief in free will as an abstract, philosophical belief that views the self as free from internal and external constraints and capable of choosing and directing one's own path. In Study 1 (N = 116, undergraduates), belief in free will was associated with higher performance on an academic proofreading task. In Study 2 (N = 614, undergraduates), we examined performance in real academic settings, and the belief in free will measured at the beginning of the semester predicted better course and semester grades at the end of the semester. Importantly, we found support for the distinctive contribution of the belief in free will in comparison to well-established predictors of academic performance trait self-control and implicit theories. We conclude that individual differences in the endorsement of the belief in free will are a significant and unique predictor of academic achievement. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.