Scoring The Viva

Introduction: The Place Where The Post Starts

Today’s post is a little different. I’m often asked about the criteria for the viva. What do examiners look for? How are candidates assessed? These are good questions and I’ve decided that today, April 1st 2019, I’ll share details of the assessment. Academics do not want these to be widely known, but I think it’s important that PhD candidates are not fooled by rumours!

Score 100 Or More: The Goal Of The Viva

In the viva you’re trying to get a score over 100. Your score starts at 100, but your participation in the viva can raise or lower this score.

Your score increases by 1 for every question you’re asked and for every minute you spend answering that question.

Points are deducted for overly long hesitations on a sliding scale (1 point for five seconds, 2 points for 10-20 seconds, 5 points for 20+ seconds).

Points are deducted at the examiners’ discretion for repetition, stalling and grandstanding.

10 points are usually deducted for errors, lies and instances of plagiarism, unless they’re really well done, in which case bonus points could be added (depending on whether your university’s name is “University of X” or “X University”).

Questions, Answers And Points: What You Need To Know

Questions must be from the list of pre-approved questions, unless the examiners receive special dispensation from the Vice Chancellor.

If a question is not from the pre-approved list the candidate will receive a bonus point to their score (as there was no way they could prepare an answer for it in advance).

17 points are deducted for every “I don’t know” unless the candidate can justify why they don’t know, in which case 7 points will be added to the total.

Addendum: The Other Things You Need To Know

Bonus points can be awarded for answering in rhyme.

Every five minutes after the first 90 will see a decrease in score by two points, unless one of the examiners has a palindromic family name.

Otherwise, vivas longer than two hours will need to be rescored under the Alternative Viva Scoring Method (Lipra and Loof, 2019).

…actually, this method is all quite complicated…

If you really want to know how vivas are assessed at your institution, it’s probably better that you check the regulations. Chat with your supervisor or other academics from your department or faculty. Explore viva experiences with graduates from your department.

Your viva will be unique, but if you explore the likely scenarios you won’t be fooled.