Remember you know your work better than anyone else!
I have read and heard these words so many times from people trying to reassure viva candidates. They’re not wrong but I’ve had a growing feeling for some time that they brush over a lot of points.
The viva isn’t solely about knowing things – it’s a test of what you can do as well, a test of how you think.
You did the work, but your examiners must have done lots of work too to be able to examine you.
I worry too that the phrasing implies that the viva is simple, straightforward, easy. While the majority of candidates pass and many describe it as positive I don’t think – in nearly thirteen years – I’ve ever heard anyone describe their viva as easy!
“You know your work better than anyone else” is too simple. It leaves too much out.
How about: You did the work, so you have the skills and knowledge to do this too. How does that sound?
It might not roll off the tongue as easily, but it gets closer to the truth of the situation.