Filling In The Blanks

There’s lots of blanks that could occur around the viva.

Key information you don’t know. Something you can’t remember. Before and during the viva, the feeling of suddenly knowing that you don’t know something can be uncomfortable, even stressful.

In both cases, before and during, the best thing you can do is ask questions.

Before the viva your question at encountering a blank might be one of the following:

  • Why don’t I know this?
  • Who could I ask for help?
  • Where could I find help?
  • What do I really need to know?

Any one of these questions might be the springboard to finding what you need to fill in the blank or gain more certainty about a situation.

In the viva, feeling blank is probably more stressful, but still the best thing to do is ask questions.

If your first response to a question or comment in the viva is “I don’t know” then ask yourself “Why?” Find out what’s in the way. Explore what’s stopping you. Ask “Why?” to prompt you to see what you need to do next.

Maybe you need to ask your examiners something. Maybe you need to pause and think more. Maybe you need to acknowledge a point before you can move past it. Maybe you need to check something in your thesis.

Encounter a blank, before or during the viva, and ask yourself “Why?”

Then find a way forward from there.