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I fail in Viva every time!

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  • Thread starter Arup Biswas
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After thoroughly reading a topic, when I know I almost understand this, I stutter in giving Viva in front of my teachers! It's not that they ask too hard questions problem is either I can not get what answer they want or they can not understand what I try to say! Sometimes they ask so easy questions that even that question seems to me a nightmare for me to answer! Last time I asked to say(In the statistical mechanics viva) 'What is system?' and I remained silent again( on optics viva) I was asked 'What is order no.(of a diffraction/interference pattern)?' again I stumbled. May be that I get good marks but in written exams but a bad viva-voice just spoils the happiness of my life! What should I do??
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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You will have to ask yourself why you face a problem. There can be two reasons:
  1. You don't know the topic.
  2. You are nervous.
You have said that you understand the topic, so I am ruling out the first one. If it is the second one, you have to overcome this problem. You can start by thinking that the ones asking you are fools and know nothing. That's how I was successful in overcoming nervousness.

If you don't know something, just say that you do not know it.

You have to understand that the ones taking your viva are humans, and won't eat you up.

Sometimes, they will try to make you think whether you are correct, by asking questions like "Are you sure about that?" If you know you are correct, stay on your point.

And if they say that you are wrong, ask them why, and admit that you're wrong if the reason satisfies you.
 
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Choppy
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Responding to oral questions is a skill. Like any other skill it is honed with practice and feedback.

It's one thing to be able to solve a problem on paper. On paper, you can see the specific wording of the question, you have time to digest it and carefully consider your answer before responding. You can skip it can come back to it. You can even erase an answer if you think it might be wrong. In an oral exam there's a lot more pressure to produce an answer immediately.

And in my experience, having gone through the Canadian education system (it might be different where you are), there isn't a lot of practice with oral exams as you grow up through school. Most exams are written, and to that's the skill that you learn. When you study, you probably spend a lot of time making notes or working through problems on paper. So that's what you know.

Tips on doing better in oral exam scenarios (or even just answering questions in class)…
  1. Practice careful, active listening. Allow your instructor to ask the full question.
  2. Make sure you understand the question. Repeat it back, using your own words if you can.
  3. You are allowed to take time to consider your answer in most cases. Pause when you need it. Sometimes it can help to tell your instructor that you need a moment to think.
  4. When answering, establish a context for the answer, if appropriate. What do you know that's relevant to the problem?
  5. Make use of whiteboards/blackboards. There is a tactile element to memory and learning. And sometimes it can help to draw out your answer. Going to the board can help to trigger key concepts or a sketch can make an answer more obvious.
  6. Practice talking about the topics you are studying. Even informally, trying to explain something that you 'think' you now can often make gaps in your knowledge more obvious.
  7. Get together with your classmates and fire questions at each other and practice answering them orally.
  8. In most cases your instructor is not trying to trick you. If an answer seems obvious, it probably is.
 
  • #4
Thanks choppy and whirick! It will help me a lot [emoji4]
 
  • #5
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Try remembering the concepts while you are doing nothing. Try it before the night sleep. Repeat in your own words what you have learnt from book. If you cannot don't be afraid/mess things up, just read the book once more. This will gather the self confidence you need.
 

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