Responses to Classic Questions

“How do I get ready to answer classic questions in the viva?”

I’ve been asked this many times over the last decade – I’ve met over 5000 candidates in seminars and webinars, so there’s a lot of questions I’ve been asked more than once!

First, we have to dismiss the idea of “classic” or “common” questions. There are topics that frequently come up, like summarising research or being able to talk about methods or conclusions. Questions vary a lot though, and that’s before we account for every thesis being unique. You can’t prepare a response for every question that could be asked. There’s too many!

It’s far better to think of preparation for questions as being ready to participate in the viva. So what can you do to get ready?

  • Find opportunities to talk about your work.
  • Be ready to explain why you did it, how you did it, what happened as a result.
  • Be willing to explore what you know, what you did and what you can do as a researcher.

You don’t need rehearsed answers to “classic questions” – you need the confidence to respond to whatever your examiners ask. Finding opportunities to talk with others and share what you’ve done can be enough to build that confidence.