Information seeking is one of the key skills in the problem-solving process. This paper explores and compares the information seeking skills of senior student nurses (n = 253) from three pre-registration nurse education programmes: Registered General Nurse (RGN); diploma Registered Nurse (Diploma RN); and integrated degree. Skills were explored using a paper and pencil simulation exercise. Study findings revealed both similarities and differences between the groups. Few students displayed a holistic approach when acquiring information and the rationale for information requests was cited infrequently. The integrated degree programme participants displayed a more systematic approach to information acquisition, while more RGN programme participants referred to the use of a model. The most favoured model to aid data acquisition was Roper et al.'s [The Elements of Nursing, third ed., Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1996] Activities of Living Model. The study findings are discussed in the wider context of professional education and practice and the potential for further development of information seeking skills on pre-registration nurse education programmes is noted. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.