What Do You Do?

What do you do if something goes wrong in your viva?

  • What do you do if you’re feeling nervous?
  • What do you do if you’re feeling unsure of what to say?
  • What do you do if you’re feeling forgetful and the right thoughts seem out of reach?
  • What do you do if you panic in your viva?

The most simple response to any of these is that you keep going. In a very real sense there isn’t anything else you can do. You’re in your viva and you’re trying to succeed. You have to keep going to do that.


The simple response is to keep going, but to be more specific:

  • If you’re feeling nervous you could try to pause and breathe. You could remind yourself of something helpful. You could ask for a break to compose yourself.
  • If you’re unsure then you could acknowledge that. Tell your examiners you’re not sure and why. Or start by asking yourself why you’re unsure and take a moment to think.
  • If you’re feeling forgetful then you can take a break to check something. Explain that the information has slipped your mind but you really want to talk about this.
  • If you panic then ask for a break. Find a way to calm. If you can, check what has caused that panic and see what steps you can take to address it.

You have to keep going. You have to do something. Perhaps the simplest thing to suggest is that you pause, read your thesis, drink some water, make a note and talk with your examiners.

Keep going.