To help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to provide evidence-based practice in nursing, a health needs analysis assignment is incorporated within a pre-registration nursing programme. As student nurses have reported difficulties in accessing and utilising some of the information needed for this assigned task, the aim of the study was to explore their experiences of undertaking this assignment. Using a qualitative methodology data was collected from focus groups and categorised under three main themes: the challenge of evidence gathering; the nature of the support students needed and understanding the importance of evidence for practice. This paper illustrates that although accessing and utilising material was demanding and required more guidance, the biggest challenge lay in making judgements about it and there was a clear indication of the need for further support in developing their critical and evaluative skills. The quality of debate within the focus groups also led the research team to question whether educationalists are making the most of capitalising on the rich learning gained from students sharing their experiences of undertaking assignments.