Expect A Challenge

Questions of whether or not the viva will be “easy” or “hard” are unanswerable. There are too many personal and subjective factors.¬†Objectively, we can say that the viva is a challenge. The level of the conversation, the nature of the discussion, the purpose and hoped-for outcome – all give rise to an environment of challenge.

It could be a challenge to respond to critical comments, but in the moment you find it easy to reconcile your examiners’ words.

It could be a challenge to recall specific details of something that would ordinarily be trivial to remember. You might need to pause, check your thesis and see if you can find something to spark your memory.

Don’t expect easy or hard. Expect a challenge.

And expect that by now you have a talent for rising to meet challenges.

Easy Viva, Hard Viva

Is it better to have an easy viva or a hard viva?

I got this question at one of my final Viva Survivor sessions before my summer break. I have lots of thoughts…

First, the answer really depends on what we mean by “easy” and “hard”. It depends on the candidate and their preferences. If easy means zero challenge, does that mean the viva means nothing really? If hard means almost-overwhelming questions and discussions, does that mean it was fair? And regardless of whether you want or have an “easy” or “hard” viva, there are no guarantees one way or the other…

Around a year ago I wrote a little on this topic (Easy, Hard, Challenging). The final thought from that post seems relevant to the question today:

On the day you could find [the viva] easy or hard, but it will still be a challenge.

It’s still a challenge even if you are necessarily talented.

You don’t know what kind of viva you’ll get in advance. You can know what kind of candidate you are, and rise to meet whatever challenge you find in your viva.

Easy, Hard, Challenging

Don’t worry about whether or not your viva will be easy or hard. Who knows what you’ll feel like on the day, in the moment?

Prepare for a challenge. Two people have read your thesis and are ready to ask you all about it. This isn’t trivial, an elevator conversation or dinner party chit-chat. It’s there to explore what you’ve done, what you could have done and what all that means.

On the day you could find this easy or hard, but it will still be a challenge.

It’s still a challenge even if you are necessarily talented.