Before the exam:
- Ensure that all members have set aside about 3 hours for your exam.
- Check all audio/visual presentation equipment or test your screen sharing
- Briefly review your thesis and get familiar with your figures
- Get familiar with several key references, including authors’ names, research groups and major points that may support your defense
On the day of the exam:
- There is no dress code, but it is recommended to dress in a professional manner
- Come approximately 30 minutes early to check the equipment if holding the exam in person
- It is optional and by no means necessary to bring water and/or refreshments for your exam committee. If you or your supervisor choose to do so, these should be modest
- Bring a hard copy of your thesis if holding the exam in person
- 20 minutes maximum
- Remember: everyone has read your thesis; you don’t need to teach your examiners
- Background: provide the rationale and significance of your research
- Hypothesis: this is the most important part of your research
- Methods: concentrate on the experimental design
- Results: only present the main results
- Conclusion: be clear and accurate
- There are several types of examination questions, which fall into four categories:
- Related to your research: background, significance
- Questions from your thesis: statement, presentation of figures, additional information, your mistakes
- Background knowledge: statistics, etc.
- Unpredictable questions
- If the Globe and Mail wants to release your research, what would the title of the article be?
- What are the top 3 secrets of your success?
- If you could re-do your project, what kind of new approaches would you like to use?
How to answer your questions:
- Make sure you understand the question properly. Repeating the question back can allow you time to think it over
- Provide a clear, brief answer
- Use references to demonstrate your knowledge and support your point
- Don’t be defensive
- Be honest. Sometimes, “I don’t know” could be the best answer
- If the question is not related to your research directly, point it out first, then speculate
- After the first round, if you feel it is necessary, you may ask for a short break
The Examiner/Chair has the obligation to protect you. If you feel harassed, you may bring this to the attention of the Examiner/Chair and/or the other Examiners.