Not Ideal

There’s no such thing as a perfect viva. You can be very happy on the day of course, but at the time or afterwards you might feel like you want something else:

  • A different examiner;
  • An opening question that hits differently;
  • A shorter viva;
  • More time to talk about more stuff!
  • Another break;
  • A different date so you can prepare more.

However much time you think you need and whatever circumstances you want, at some point your viva happens. There will be some examiners, it will start and then it will go on until it’s done. You can steer some of these things but you can’t control them. Some of the details of the viva will be totally beyond your control or influence and they might even be not to your preference.


So what can you do? Work on and for the things you can control or influence.

  • You might want different examiners, but you can be ready for the ones you have;
  • You can prepare to respond to whatever question they start with;
  • You can find out what to reasonably expect from your viva;
  • You can rehearse to engage with the discussion however long it becomes!
  • You can always ask for whatever breaks you need;
  • And you can, if you really need to, make an honest request to change your viva date if there are extenuating circumstances.

But you probably don’t need more time to prepare – you just need to recognise what you can do to respond well to the situation, however it presents itself.

There is no perfect viva – but then you don’t need idealised circumstances in order to succeed.