For years I’ve avoided spoilers. I remember racing home with the final three Harry Potter books on the days they were released, turning my phone off and reading until they were done – partly because I was desperate to know what happened, but also because I didn’t want anyone else to spoil them for me.

Spoiler Alert! A small number of vivas start with examiners telling the candidate that they’ve passed. Some examiners do it to reassure the candidate. Examiners who declare a pass at the start have good intentions, but universities would prefer examiners didn’t do it. It begs the question, “Is this an exam or not?”

After I’ve shared this possibility in workshops – usually because someone has said, “A friend of a friend was told they’d passed…” – I have to add that it’s not that likely and if it were your viva you would never know until it happens. You could spend all the time on the run up to the viva thinking, “Will they tell me at the start? Will they tell me at the start?” Is that helpful? I don’t think so.

You can’t control what your examiners will do in the viva or at the start.

Spoiler Alert! You can control what you do and how well you can be prepared.