This paper contrasts students’ perceptions of feedback practices on written texts and their utilization of the feedback against formative assessment pedagogy. It uses observations of nine lessons of English writing in combination with semi-structured interviews of 39 first year upper secondary students in Norway. The findings show that students in general appreciate the feedback, but have diverging views about the different types and forms of feedback provided. The majority want to have one-to-one discussions with the teacher about their texts in addition to written feedback, and to receive more specific comments on both content and language. Most are content to use feedback in a delayed fashion, as a reference point for future writings. This is a result from the working routine in the classrooms where feedback in most cases comes with a grade – without a strict requirement to follow-up comprehensively, with the exception of correcting language errors. The findings highlight the primacy of form in the feedback provided and, in more than one way, poor quality formative feedback from the students’ perspective. It concludes that in order to maximize the formative potential of feedback there is a need to make it more usable, e.g. by giving it to ungraded texts and asking students to produce improved work based on feedback.