Research into student experiences of e‐assessment has been neglected. Students' expectations and perceptions of e‐assessment have been under‐researched and their learning strategies are often unclear. This paper reports a qualitative study which investigated student expectations and perceptions of formative e‐assessment. Screen‐capture software was utilised to record students' on‐task actions during completion of a formative e‐assessment. The captured interaction was subsequently used to stimulate recall in post‐assessment interviews. Participants discussed the thinking underpinning their approach to different question types, reflected on strategies employed during completion of their assessments and described in detail any difficulties encountered. Interpretative phenomenological analysis identified seven major themes. These provided an insight into the way students approach formative e‐assessment tasks, the techniques they employ, issues associated with assessment design, and the provision and quality of feedback. Implications for future research and professional action to enhance the effectiveness of formative assessment were outlined.