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What Questions May I Be Asked at My Dissertation Defense?

If you think that your trials will end with your dissertation writing, you are wrong. There is still one major step that separates you from success. The oral defense portion following the writing can be a bigger challenge than the actual paper.

When you work on the paper itself, you can be at ease because you are sure about the things you write. During the defense, you will be asked all kinds of questions. Some of them can make you doubt everything, including your own skills. This can result in your poor performance and will affect your grade and reputation greatly.

In order to avoid this, you need to know how to prepare for the oral defense. When you know what questions might be asked, you will be able to prepare your answers and feel more comfortable about this situation. Here is what you need to do in order to be able to anticipate questions during your dissertation defense:

  1. Attend several dissertation defenses.

    This will give you a chance to see what exactly happens during the defense. It will be best to visit a few times in order to determine what kinds of questions are recurrent.

  2. Study your committee.

    You need to attend the lectures of these professors and read their works in order to learn their habits and mannerisms. You will need to pay attention in their classes to understand what their motifs are when they ask questions. This will allow you to anticipate their questions regarding your paper. Watching them interact with other students will also teach you how to behave to make a positive impression.

  3. Learn the “tricks” from your advisor.

    Your dissertation advisor should help you prepare for the defense by offering advice and teaching you a few tricks that can only be learned from experience. Bear in mind that the professor may not volunteer this information, so you will need to ask them for assistance directly.

It is natural to feel anxious about your defense. However, being too nervous will affect your performance. To avoid this, you should get plenty of sleep the night before the event. Do everything you can to relax so you can sleep well and feel truly refreshed in the morning. Meditation techniques and breathing exercises will be extremely helpful at this stage.

Have a light breakfast before the defense. Skipping a meal will only make your stomach feel more queasy and uncomfortable. Start your day with your normal routine and dress smartly. Habitual movements will help calm your nerves and allow you to focus on the task.