How to Face your PhD viva – 5 useful tips - PhD Guides

How to Face your PhD viva – 5 useful tips

The viva exam for your PhD is the final step toward achieving your doctorate dream. This is a critical step in completing your PhD. As a result, you must prepare thoroughly before appearing for viva.

The main goal of the viva is to ensure that the research you conducted is done entirely by you and not by anyone else. In addition the examiner also checks your understanding and knowledge gained from your research through viva.

The viva will provide the examiner with an overview of your research work as well as your broader thinking. Thus, you must have prepared with strong arguments to defend your thesis and present yourself well in front of the panel.

5 useful tips to ace your PhD viva

Here are the 5 useful tips to ace your PhD viva and passed it with flying colors.

Read your thesis inside out

You will defend your thesis in the PhD viva, so it is critical that you are completely familiar with it. I’m sure you thought you knew everything about your thesis because you wrote it and read it several times.

However, it is always a good idea to reread your thesis before your viva. You might get a completely different idea when you read it a week ago from your viva. While reading your viva make notes, read your argument, and highlight the important text. This will allow you to comprehend your work more thoroughly and help you explain it properly to the panel.

Remember that the thesis you have and the panel has the same pagination so there is no confusion when you explain parts of your thesis to the examiner.

Think about the potential questions

You can prepare for the potential questions the examiner will ask you, as they will all be related to your work. You can ask your supervisor for assistance and anticipate some common and important questions based on your thesis.

Some common questions include:

  • What contribution have you made in your field?
  • What are the main research questions that your thesis addressed?
  • What are the thesis’s high and low points?
  • What are your plans for the future in your field?
  • What would you do differently if you had to write your thesis again?

These are some common questions you should practice before your viva. You can also consider other questions by conducting research and practicing all of these questions. It will help you gain confidence.

Answer the questions with confidence and poise. Do not be concerned; you can also include stories or techniques from your PhD experience when describing your answers.

 Know your examiner

It is always preferable to be familiar with your examiner prior to the viva. You can search about them on the internet and see if there are any similarities between their research and yours.

Read their work and get to know their ideas and idealogies. This will help you to know them better and give you a good idea of what questions they might ask you during the viva.

Furthermore, if you have the opportunity, meet them in person and speak with them to get a sense of their demeanour and general tone of voice. It will assist you in getting to know the person informal setting and gaining confidence while giving your viva.

Take advice from those who have already passed their viva

This is the best and most important tip for those who are about to take their PhD viva. Speaking with people who have already passed their viva can provide you with a wealth of information about the process.

You can go over all of your concerns with them and ask them what questions they faced during their PhD viva and how they answered them. You can take notes and prepare for your viva using the advice you received from them.

Their perspectives on the overall process may also reassure you that there is nothing to be concerned about and that you do not need to panic. Most candidates who have passed their viva surely give you this advice.

Don’t over pressurize

Take a deep breath and avoid overstressing yourself. You have finished your thesis, which was the most difficult step; you will undoubtedly pass this viva as well. All of the questions are based on your research, and you know almost everything about it, so you don’t need to be concerned.

To deal with your stress, try new things. You can go out or spend time with your friends or family. Do things that make you happy and relaxed before your viva exam. Try not to think about the viva exam until a few days before the exam. Eliminate all doubts from your mind and feel confident in yourself and your work.


The viva is an excellent opportunity to connect with the expert of your field and the final stage of your PhD. Remember that you will be discussing your work with people who have read it and are experts in this field. Instead of panicking, have a passionate discussion about it. You might learn something new. Take advantage of this opportunity and give your best.

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