• The purposes of this longitudinal study were to examine Swedish student nurses’ perceptions of independence and to explore to what extent the students had had opportunities to practise different tasks during clinical practice.
• Data were collected on weekly self-assessment forms during the first and final clinical courses of a 3-year nursing programme for 60 and the remaining 48 students, respectively.
• The majority of the students rated themselves as being independent of supervision to a great extent both at the beginning and throughout the clinical courses. Some students reported no or few opportunities to practise certain tasks during both courses.
• Factors that may have influenced the students’ perception of independence are discussed, such as preparation before the clinical courses and the importance students gave to certain tasks.
• Clinical practice should be carefully planned and individualized to facilitate students’ opportunities to practise different tasks.