Apart from PhD thesis writing, the most dreaded task for PhD graduates is to survive the viva. As PhD is quite different from any undergraduate and master’s degree and viva plays an important role in measuring the overall performance of the PhD candidate. Since it is the final hurdle for gaining a PhD, the viva is often surrounded by horrendous stories based on different experiences. If these stories still haunt you and make you worried about your viva, then relax as we answer all your viva worries in our below post. Apart from answering your worries, our tips will also help you in preparing and performing well on your viva day.
Myth: Viva lasts for about nine hours
Fact: Viva lasts no longer than two hours
While stories of viva lasting for nine hours is common, generally a viva lasts anywhere between one to two hours and does not go over two hours. To make the most out of your time, make sure all your statistics, drawings and equations are in place and you are ready to answer any question based on your research.
Myth: The examiners will break you
Fact: The examiners are only evaluating your knowledge
Students often believe that the examiners will try their very best from refraining students to score better points for their answers. However, like any other examination, the examiner’s job during the viva is to check the student’s subject knowledge. So, be prepared to gather all the knowledge covering your research in different ways. Calmly answer every question asked by the examiner to give a better understanding of your PhD thesis ideas, findings and conclusions.
Myth: Students go blank during the viva
Fact: Tricky questions might confuse you
Although you might forget your answers and get confused during the viva, you will never go blank if you prepare well in advance. Go through different subjects of your PhD dissertation and practise answering predictable questions. Learn to answer different types of questions such as open, closed, applied, probing, specific and general.
Myth: The examiner might misinterpret your answers
Fact: Examiner will give you a chance to defend your work
Examiners often get disappointed when students do not do justice to themselves and come with no strategies to defend their work during the viva. Experts advice to prepare short summaries of important topics of your thesis and make different strategies to present your key findings, arguments, methodology and conclusions. Also, know your strengths and weaknesses beforehand and do not hesitate from accepting your weaknesses.
Myth: You should be over-prepared
Fact: Over-preparing might not help
As viva is an important examination, you might think of spending a longer time to go through your complete dissertation and learn the key points. However, this is not required as you have already spent a lot more time researching your topic and presenting your ideas in the dissertation. You have already completed the groundwork and need to be confident to present your ideas in front of the examiner.
Myth: Viva is like a confrontational contest
Fact: Viva is like any other two-way communication event
Instead of taking viva as an ordeal, consider it as an opportunity to discuss your research with your peers who are specialists in your field. Remain calm and remember that you have presented valuable research. Showcase your skills, make eye contact, use gestures and use clear voice to present your ideas and arguments.