Maximum Effort

Or rather, Maximum Effort! if you’re a fan of the Deadpool movies. It’s not quite a catchphrase, just a fun thing that the anti-hero says before a couple of cool moments in the films. I was away for work last month when I saw the second movie, and the phrase stood out to me.

As I was walking back from the cinema I pondered: “What would Maximum Effort! look like for viva preparation?”

Would it be…

  • …checking every paper your examiners had ever published, learning them by heart?
  • …having a mock viva, a mock-mock-viva plus weekly status update and chapter breakdown meetings with your supervisor?
  • …preparing answers to every question you could think of?
  • …putting Post-it Notes everywhere in your thesis?
  • …reading your thesis until you can see it with your eyes closed?
  • …optimising everything you can think of to fine-tune your confidence?

Erm, yeah, probably.

But do you need to do all of that?

No. Not at all. Check out your examiners’ work, have a mock if it will help and practise answering unexpected questions. Annotate your thesis in a useful way, read and check it so you have a good mental picture and do what you can to be your best on the day.

You don’t need to make a Maximum Effort! for the viva when you’ve come as far as you have already.