Student FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Herky's Top 5 Strengths?

The Class of 2021 selected Herky's Top 5 Strengths:
1. Maximizer - Herky takes all that is good and makes it great, with a focus on excellence. 
2. Competition - Herky loves to compete, and competes to win. Go Hawks! 
3. Includer - Herky brings everyone together and ensures that all are welcomed.
4. Woo - "There are no strangers, only friends Herky hasn't met yet."
5. Positivity - Herky is energetic and optimistic, with a lighthearted sense of humor.

I have already taken StrengthsFinder before. Can I use the results I have?

Your first completion of the Clifton StrengthsFinder will yield the purest and most revealing results. For this reason, each Clifton StrengthsFinder access code is valid for only one time through the assessment.

Taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder more than once may actually decrease the accuracy of your results. The Clifton StrengthsFinder measures the presence of talents by presenting you with a pair of statements, then challenging you to make a top-of-mind choice between the two. The 20-second time limit and your unfamiliarity with the statements ensure your assessment's accuracy by making it difficult to over-think your responses.

If you are distracted or interrupted while taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder, the assessment will automatically stop after three missed responses. When you resume, it will pick up where you left off. The average person does miss responding to a few items, but because the instrument presents 177 items, missing a few will not significantly affect your results.

I see that this initiative offers free access to take Strengths to incoming students. I'm a returning student and would like to take the Strengths assessment. How can I take the assessment?

There are a limited number of opportunities to take the assessment as an upperclassmen free of charge. Thanks to the gracious support of the University of Iowa Student Government, undergraduate students interested in taking the assessment may click here to request a code. Students must be taking the assessment for the first time, use their UI e-mail address (i.e., and fill out the appropriate form. 

Any person is also welcome to purchase access to take the Strengths assessment by visiting the Gallup website and purchasing a code.

What happens to my information when I take the Strengths assessment? Is it confidential?

Completing the Clifton StrengthsFinder (CSF) assessment as a part of the Success@Iowa course means that a student’s Top 5 Strengths will become a part of their educational record at The University of Iowa. As such, this information is governed by FERPA and access to the information is restricted to:

“school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the information. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, collection agent, or software vendor); a person serving on the Board of Regents; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.  A volunteer or contractor outside of the University is considered a school official for purposes of this policy if he or she performs an institutional service or function for which the University would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the University with respect to the use and maintenance of personally identifiable information from education records.”

As the software vendor providing the StrengthsFinder assessment, the Gallup Organization meets the FERPA criteria for access to the student’s name and Top 5 Strengths. Gallup will never use or release data in anyway that links to identity. Any data use is anonymous and reported only in aggregate form. 

No one at the University of Iowa is conducting research using the data provided through the StrengthsFinder assessment. This data is only being used for institutional improvement purposes. 

If a student does not want their Top 5 to be connected to their educational record:

1.    They can request that it be removed from the UI data report by emailing Gallup at Note that doing this means your record will be deleted completely, so you should insure you have a printout of your results.

2.    They can purchase a code on their own and take the assessment.

Will I be "labeled", "stereotyped", or "put in a box" based on my talent themes/strengths?

Your themes of talent are a unique identifier of who you are, but they do not tell you what you have to do or define who you are. Your talents give you a roadmap to better understand the types of activities, classes, and experiences that you enjoy and that will help you to be the most successful. 

What is the difference between talents and strengths?

A strength is the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity. The key to creating a strength is to identify your dominant talents -- the ways in which you most naturally think, feel, and behave as a unique individual -- then complement them by acquiring knowledge and skills pertinent to the activity

How likely is it to have the same Top 5 Talent Themes as somebody else?

Similar to a fingerprint, the sequence of a person’s themes is unique to them. The odds that someone else has the same five Signature Themes in the same order are 1 in 33 million. 

What about my weaknesses? Should I just ignore them now that I know my strengths?

Without a great deal of hard work, talent alone is never enough. Without natural talent, a lot of hard work will yield little return. Therefore, when considering where to invest one's time, energy, and attention, Gallup research indicates that the best place to start is in an area of strength. Yet by no means does any of our research suggest that people should ignore their weaknesses. To do so, especially in the classroom or workplace, is reckless.

All of Gallup's development programs focus on helping individuals to build on their strengths and to determine how their weaknesses can best be managed. Our strengths-based approach has helped students to increase retention, academic engagement, perceived academic control, hope, and well-being. Likewise, strengths can help staff and faculty increase productivity, drive performance, and improve areas with under performing management or leadership. We do not advise ignoring areas of weakness; the result would be detrimental to a campus's impact -- and likely an individual's career.

What careers and/or majors should I pursue based on my talents themes/strengths?

Your Top 5 Talent Themes do not limit or prescribe which major or career you should pursue. When considering major and career options, reflect on how your Top 5 Talent Themes could be activated and applied. As noted in StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Rath, 2007, p.20), talent x investment = strength. Think about how you can build on your talents by investing time, developing skills, and gaining knowledge through your coursework and experiences outside the classroom. This will help you transform your talents into strengths, with the potential for greater fulfillment and engagement in your chosen major and career.