The Numbers Game

95% of vivas are finished by the four-hour mark.

I estimate that less than one-in-ten candidates will be asked to prepare a presentation.

Around 85% of candidates are asked to complete minor corrections to their thesis as the formal outcome of the viva.

Approximately 10% could be told the outcome of the viva as they start the exam.

And as useful as these statistics can be sometimes for shaping expectations, they’re also really hard to give someone a game plan for the viva. Lots of overlapping ideas – and while they create a feeling to hope for or engage with, you can’t know what is going to happen until you’re there.

The statistics help but you can’t play that game. You have to focus much more simply.

Use the stats and the stories of friends to create a picture of the viva that honestly seems fine. Then do your best. Create the best thesis you can. Prepare as best you can. Boost your confidence as best you can. Start the viva well. Keep going.

It’s important to have good expectations for the viva but the numbers can be a distraction. Create good expectations for yourself too.