Viva voce is a Latin phrase literally meaning with living voice, but is most often translated as by word of mouth. Furthermore, viva voce is also is termed as an oral examination which consists of a dialogue between the examiner and a student where the examiner ask question and the student replies. The examiner may ask short open questions, multiple choice questions or a series of other type of questions not necessarily related to each other. 
   In nursing, viva voce is generally used to supplement the practical examination where two examiners, i.e. internal and external, ask several questions related to a particular subject matter. The viva voce might form a part of the validated assessment for a course, assessed by an oral examination. In these situations, the viva voce is a useful tool that in authenticating that the student has got enough knowledge in the subject matter.

Purposes of Viva Voce
   There are a variety of circumstances which might require the use of a viva voce and provision for these is contained in the academic and organizational regulations. There are several legitimate reasons for asking a student to attend a viva voce examination, all of which may have a different impact on the student. The main purposes of the viva voce are mentioned below:

  • To assess student's ability to communicate with another person.
  • To supplement the information obtained through other evaluation techniques.
  • To use stimulation methods like role play and telephone conversation.
  • To identify and analyse the student's presence of mind.
  • To evaluate the student's spontaneity and mannerism.
  • To acquire soundness of knowledge through various forms of question.
  • To diagnose the student's limitation and weakness and take remedial action.
Principles to Conduct Viva Voce

  • The viva should not be limited to a single topic but should cover a range of different issues to avoid the results of the viva being skewed by selecting a topic which the candidate can answer exceptionally well or about which he/she knows nothing of. All questions should be strictly relevant to the purpose of the viva.
  • Do not use long preambles to questions. Examiners should talk as little as possible during the viva.
  • The chair of the examiners must remain in charge of the session and must deal appropriately with any problem candidate or difficult situation.
  • When the last question is being asked, allow the student to complete his/her answer and end the session formally.
  • Viva voce examinations should not normally exceed 30 minutes.
  • Candidates should be examined individually.
  • Candidates should be given adequate notice of the possibility of being called to attend a viva, and this should normally not be less than 24 hours.
Advantages of a Viva Voce

  • Provide direct contact with the candidates to assess their communication, presentation skills and overall impression.
  • Provide opportunity to mitigate circumstances into accounts.
  • Provide flexibility in moving the candidates from strong to weak points.
  • Makes students formulate replies without cues, and the reaction is observed for a specific stimulus.
  • Facilitates simultaneous assessment by two or more examiners.
  • Provides an opportunity for the examiner to get feedback on the performance of the students and the university.
Disadvantages of a Viva Voce

  • Lacks standardization, objectivity and reproducibility of the result.
  • Permits favoritism and cannot be used for future references.
  • Suffers from undue influence of irrelevant factors.
  • Costly in terms of professional time.


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