The aim is to analyse how policy decisions about assessment practices influence what it means to be a student in a performative system. We examine an occasion where a previously mandatory national test became optional, and how students took the opportunity to try to change the school's decision about this. The study is based on student group interviews in year 6, and uses Conversation Analysis to examine how they use discursive resources to co-construct fabrications of the ideal student. The findings show how neoliberal rhetoric has worked its way into the students' everyday lives, and how they display a deep knowledge about how to use arguments that work inside the system. We argue that there is a need for more knowledge about contemporary education policies from a student perspective.