My master thesis was the greatest sh*tshow that ever happened in my life. Fortunately I did manage to put it all together and submit it. After that I booked a defense date which is tomorrow.
In the meantime, two days ago I got the reviews for my master thesis from both professors and I barely passed the written thesis with score of 3.7 (1-Excellent and 5-Fail) with a lot of questions about my approach and structure. I don't mind ending with a bad grade as it was not up to the quality.

But, I am now in panic and anxiety for the last few days. I don't know how I will defend my thesis. Would anybody guide me how to defend a bad graded thesis? I am based in Germany. What are my chances that I failed the defense despite passing the written thesis? My mind is blank at the moment due to anxiety as I did not get enough time to digest my results.

  • 2
    What did your advisor tell you after you discussed with them the review?
    – FBolst
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 14:41
  • Actually I am so ashamed of my result and my thesis I did not meet him to discuss the review. I got result from 2nd professor yesterday and 1st professor today. I feel so lost at the moment and feel like no where to go! They both wrote really harsh comment about my thesis in review. Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 14:46
  • At the least it seems you should focus on how your approach led to your conclusions. Not so much refute the questions, but clarify.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 14:46
  • I am planning to explain the process and my approch which yieled me this result. The main remark what did they give is that the result which i came up with is actully useful but I failed to provide the scientific proof in my dissertation(The result is about search user interface). Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 14:57
  • 5
    This is one particular situation in which the advisor should be there for you. Avoiding him, avoiding a discussion with him before the defense can make things only worse. He has much more experience, including most likely the ability to read between lines. He can surely advise you on the strategy you should employ for the defense and for the discussion with the reviewers.
    – user68958
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


While I wish I could be more positive, the fundamental fact that is in the German grading system, a grade of 3,7 on a master's thesis is a disastrous grade that is essentially unheard of. Virtually all master's theses receive grades somewhere between 1,0 and 1,7. A grade of 3,7 is very much a "pity" grade that allows you to pass the master's program, but is essentially going to be an albatross around your neck. You will not be able to use the degree to pursue advanced study anywhere in Germany, and gaining employment with that kind of grade will be a lot more difficult.

You will want to check the Prüfungsordnungen (examination rules) for your program to determine if you are allowed to resubmit or repeat the master's thesis, rather than take a grade that low on the thesis. In that case, you may find that option preferable to having to deal with the consequences of a D on the thesis.


Be prepared with a short overview of your approach and structure. Practice saying out loud to a friend if possible. Ask for feedback, and repeat.

In addition, make a list of each reviewer comment. Then write a short response to each. Practice saying each of these out loud as well.

Finally, breathe. If you find yourself getting flustered during the defense, remember you can take a few breaths or a drink of water before responding. You can also ask for clarification on any question or criticisms you don’t understand to give yourself time to compose a response. The committee wants to pass you, so let them help you!

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