I’ll be fine in the viva so long as I’m not asked about Chapter 4…

I can only talk about what I did, I don’t want to talk about hypotheticals…

I’m happy to talk to my examiners but don’t want them to challenge my conclusions…

PhD candidates have told me these things and similar for years. They’re reasonable things to think. They come from a place of concern about whether or not they can manage the task that’s ahead of them. There’s nothing irrational about wanting to do well.

But these thoughts don’t help.

A candidate has no control over what examiners will ask. You might have ideas or hopes of what they will want to talk about in the viva, but you won’t know until you get there.

Focus on being ready to talk whatever the question. Your only job in the viva is to engage with each comment and question as needed.

That’s it.

Hold on to that idea, prepare to be a full participant in the discussion, and you’ll find a far more useful position than holding on to worries and concerns.