A wide range of diverse responses by individual students to innovative or alternative assessment are described and discussed, drawing on research data. Student perspectives are significant since assessment is a powerful factor in determining the hidden curriculum and assessment reform has frequently been proposed as a means of better aligning actual experience with the official curriculum. At a general level, students appeared to understand and adapt to new assessment requirements but case studies illustrate that students do not respond in a fixed nor simple way. Individuals are active in the reconstruction of the messages and meanings of assessment. Ostensibly the same assessment is interpreted differently not just by 'staff and 'students' but by individuals. Students import a range of experiences, motivations and perspectives which influence their response. However, although the process is complex, insights gained can be helpful in better aligning the hidden and the formal curriculum.