The Viva

The viva is the part of the exam most candidates seem most stressed about. However:

  • If you make it through the written, you will most likely pass
    Very few people succeed in the written exams to fail at the viva.
    • The knowledge is there
    • Examiners want you to pass
      They will redirect you if you're off track.
      • This makes it easier to make up marks than on the written, where you can easily go off down the rabbit hole, haemorrhaging time and marks

Understanding the Viva

To do well at the viva:

  • Understand the viva is a performance piece
    The viva is a ritualised conversation. Success requires you to know and understand the language and structure used, just like the SAQ.
  • Structure your answer
    As with the SAQ, categorise your answer.
    • Have a good opening statement
      Don't answer more than is asked.
    • Start broad
      Often the viva will go into depth on only one or two areas of a topic. If you start going into detail on only parts of a topic, it makes it hard for the examiner to redirect you and scores you no marks.
  • Be confident
    Enjoy it if you can.
  • Learn to think on your feet
    The viva assesses knowledge in a different way to the SAQs.
    • The knowledge will be there, but it may require a different approach to access it
      This requires practice.
    • This is also important for delivering a sound answer based on incomplete knowledge
  • It's okay to say "I don't know"
    But probably not on the first question.
    • If you don't know immediately, can you work it out from first principles?
  • Don't get angry
    • With yourself
    • With the examiner
      Don't argue.
  • Don't apologise
    • Make you lose confidence
    • Don't get you marks
      Remember, marks per unit-time.
  • Don't talk over the examiner
    They are interrupting you because what you are saying is gaining no marks. If you keep talking, you will:
    • Not be getting marks
    • Irritate them
      Potentially losing future marks.

Last updated 2019-11-02

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