The Best!

I meet the occasional PhD candidate who is excited. That’s a good thing and I wonder sometimes about how to encourage excitement more generally. It would be nice to go to the viva with eagerness.

But expecting your viva to be the best conversation, matching all your hopes and dreams is a sure way to find disappointment.

You don’t know exactly what your examiners will ask. If they ask something you don’t want, that will diminish how you feel. If they don’t ask something you really want then that will be disappointing too! You don’t know how long your viva will be, so hoping for either a short chat or a long and in-depth discussion is just that: a hope that your viva will go a certain way.

Hoping that your viva will be the best exam ever leaves things out of your control. Instead of hoping for the best, do your best to be prepared, to find out what you can reasonably expect, to be ready to engage with your examiners whatever they ask and however long your viva happens to be.

You can’t expect your viva to be the best thing ever. But you can work towards enjoying it as an experience – and you can reasonably expect that you will succeed.