“Not The Word I’d Use…”

I’ve asked over six thousand candidates in workshops, seminars and webinars, “How do you feel about your viva?”

Less than 1% have said they felt excited.

There’s probably some selection bias there; if you’re attending a session about getting ready for the viva then perhaps you’re less likely to feel excited.

Candidates often feel nervous, which is a similar flavour of emotion; nervous and excited are both a reaction to how you anticipate something, but nervous has a much more negative sense to it. Candidates often express concern or worry: rather than being simply nervous about the viva, they have a particular aspect that they’re focussed on, a problem that needs a solution.

Many candidates feel unprepared. Thankfully that’s a temporary state; work moves you from unprepared to prepared. Work also helps with worry, you have to do something to change how you feel. Preparation won’t help nerves directly but it can help to build confidence. Confidence helps a candidate feel capable – they know what they know, they’re sure of what they’ve done, they can do what they need to – even if they then feel nervous they can put that into perspective.

And, on occasion, preparation and learning more about the viva could help someone to feel excited. As they know more of what to expect they could come to see that perhaps this is an event that’s not a final hurdle to jump or an encounter they need to win. It’s an opportunity to enjoy.

It’s not likely though. On most occasions when a candidate tells me they are excited they hastily clarify, “Er, excited to be done!”


You feel how you feel. It’s not good or bad to feel one thing or another, but understand that some states are more or less helpful for you. How you feel cannot simply be changed, but you can work towards a different state. So: how do you feel? How do you want to feel? What could you do to try to change how you feel?