Preparing for the Viva

There are numerous articles and blogs about this topic. The general consent seems to be that there are a handful of questions that always will be asked:

  1. Summarize your thesis in one sentence.
  2. Summarize your key findings.
  3. What are (significant) contributions of your research?
  4. What have you done that merits a PhD?
  5. How did your research-questions emerge?
  6. or similar: Where did your research-project come from?

After these questions there seems to be something like:

  1. What would you do if you got a research grant?
  2. What would you tell a BBC reporter?
  3. What would you tell a cabby on a 5min ride about your research?

I found much more questions additional to these and will give you the links at the end of this post. One thing that makes me really nervous though is, that there seems to be no agreement on what kind of question to expect after the general ones. The tone of articles and other PhDs I talked to was that you can never quite know what the examiner picks out to talk about. Only that you certainly can expect to be blindsided with at least a couple of questions—no matter how much you prepare.

For me that means for the next two months I am going to dream every night of being in the viva. At least this is how the situation develops at the moment. Since handing in every single night I worked through a viva—my hope: that my subconscious figures out all the proper answers until the exam date.

With no further ado I will give you the links I found most helpful:

General Articles:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2003/sep/16/highereducation.postgraduate

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/postgraduate/how-to-shine-at-your-viva-728656.html

http://www.jwelford.demon.co.uk/brainwaremap/viva.html

Really good blog with loads of possible viva questions:

http://intranet.cs.man.ac.uk/Intranet_subweb/PhDWeb/CS710/Broad/viva.html

A very helpful Q&A session about viva preparation, it really helps to calm your nerves a little:

http://www.soas.ac.uk/research/rsp/resources/preparingviva/preparing-for-the-viva—questions-and-answers.html

And last but not least the statement that I found most helpful was that the examiners are under stress as well and find it difficult to face a student of whom they know not to do justice to herself/himself. What are your experiences and tips? Is there any question you were asked that completely surprised you?

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