Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Viva La Voce ;p

My phone vibrated. Phone number starting with +4471 really made me wonder. Who was calling me from UK?

“Hi, I’m Markus’s friend. I’ve got your number from him. You’ve been called for a viva tomorrow evening. “

Oh, my God! Allah.. It means that my degree marks is in borderline. I could feel back the nervous of sitting for an exam paper.. Clueless about the viva, I decided to keep myself calm first before I preparing anything with a lost mind. Well, by sleeping. (LOL!)

Thank God, I gave my Malaysia phone number to my supervisor. Even though, I gave him, so that, he can ask my help during his annual stay in Malaysia soon. Let if he forget few important Malay words. I believe, he won’t, though!

I would love to share this valuable experience. My viva was not perfect, with complete loss of memory about bowel cancer and BRCA2 role. Nonetheless, at least, those who will be called for a viva won’t need to repeat my mistakes again and are fully aware, what they should know about it.

Mainly, viva voce for an undergraduate student is all about the study life in that particular course. Thus, you usually will be asked about:
- what you enjoyed most in your course? What do you think about it?
- Which module you like most? Why? What you learnt in the module?
- The examiner may pick other module and ask you randomly about it. These questions may be a sort of exam questions. They are not too specific and too nerve-racking, though.

Meanwhile, viva for a postgraduate student is completely about your thesis. Here I summarise all the information you should know to get yourself well-prepared for this oral assessment.

Right After Submitting Thesis
-make your writing’s summary for each section after you finish writing the thesis. Crucial because you don’t have to read the lengthy thesis repeatedly.

- keep the subject alive in your head!

- reread your writing in the foot of examiners.

- be prepared for extra readings that you may not yet read. The examiners may ask this! Check for recent studies. Don’t stop reading until viva finish!

-prepare questions that they may ask:
·         Which specific field your study should be fit in? Which topic area potentially overlaps with yours?
·         In one sentence, what is your project is all about? General comprehension. Tell them what is the most important of your thesis.
·         Why you choose this topic? Try to show what you did isn’t because your supervisor asked you to do so > It is your own work and you understand it very well (inside-out).
·         What have you done? Is there any alternative for the approach? Why you don’t use other method? Clarify your method> why you did it that way? Show how effective it was.
·         Summarise your key findings. Demonstrate your hypothesis: are you following it?
·         What makes you proud on this project? Believe positively in your field of work: don’t be pesimist.
·         What is the contribution of your project? Broader aspect of application.
·         What’s the originality of this works? Compare it with other papers.
·         What is the strength and weakness (what’s wrong) of your project? Check the conclusion section of writing. Find your own critiques and why. How you can improve it?
·         Other example: some statements in the writing that need further explanation.

When You Have Been Allocated A Date For Viva
- find journal related to your external examiner. To understand the way your examiner describes as important.

- familiarize yourself with your references: which literature influenced you most, etc.

Viva Grill- Time!
- what usually happens in viva is the examiners will go through your writings and ask sequentially.

-don’t put yourself in vulnerable situation: answer only for question been asked. Just 2-3 minutes answer per question, please.

- be descriptive. No generalization. Prepare for a more depth clarification.
-take time to answer the questions.

- don’t feel bad when the examiners ask you lots of questions.

- be honest if you can’t answer the question. Assure them that you will work it out to find the answer.

- if they have misconception on your writing, you should clarify it back.

[1] Nasty PhD Viva Questions

"Verily, my solah, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all that exists."

Nur Suhaila Zulkifli
Negeri Sembilan.

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