CHEM 20A

Chemical Structure

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Professor Most Helpful Review
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PROFESSORS

Mahdi Abu-Omar See Full Profile

Overall 3.0 Easiness 1.8 Workload 2.2 Clarity 3.8 Helpfulness 3.5

Most Helpful Review

he's really good at explaining some things (like organic) but terrible at others (like orbitals - the TAs did better jobs). he's super easy, a really nice and funny guy. tests were just like homework problems, if not easier. pretty fair grading, but his system favors smart flakes (which ticks me off a little). i enjoyed the class.

March 14, 2003
Anastassia Alexandrova See Full Profile

Overall 3.7 Easiness 2.8 Workload 3.2 Clarity 3.0 Helpfulness 3.5

Most Helpful Review

She is a sweet woman, but her explanations in class are simply not there. She'll draw molecular orbitals on the board so fast with little elaboration, leaving you confused and scrambling as you draw meaningless (at least to the majority of the class) blobs on your paper. When asking for further explanation, she'll often repeat herself instead of providing a different way of thinking. Don't be surprised if material on the exam is something she barely glanced over during lecture. Additionally, there is a huge difficulty jump from the first midterm to the second midterm, so make sure you don't get lost in those pivotal weeks. If you take her, pray for a good/helpful TA (mine certainly was not).

Fall Quarter 2016
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Timothy Atallah See Full Profile

Overall 2.6 Easiness 1.7 Workload 2.6 Clarity 2.3 Helpfulness 3.3

Most Helpful Review

This professor doesn't deserve all of the negativity. I struggled in this class, but I really appreciated the effort he put into office hours. Going to office hours will really help you, so I highly suggest it. The worksheets really forced you to understand the concepts that he puts on the exams. Additionally, the homework and extra credit are really easy. Overall, CHEM 20A is a difficult class, but this professor makes sure you understand the concepts enough to succeed in the series.

Winter Quarter 2019
Delroy Baugh See Full Profile

Overall 2.1 Easiness 2.9 Workload 3.0 Clarity 1.4 Helpfulness 1.8

Most Helpful Review

Talk about an absolute disaster. In previous quarters, it seems as though his lecturing style may have largely been the same, but the tests/quizzes, as previously mentioned, were written by generous TA's with material pulled directly from the homework. Therefore, any student willing to put in a basic level of effort into the class would, without a doubt, get an A.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

Baugh, based on students' previous end-of-term comments, has decided that he would start writing the tests and quizzes himself. One would think that this would be a good thing, but this judgement could not be further from the truth. Before I even talk about the material covered by the questions, I must address how they were written. Every single form of assessment has had some form of crippling error/lack of clarity (ESPECIALLY the 1st midterm, which would have been strictly impossible had the TA's not rushed in to clarify basic grammatical or numerical errors in the writing of the questions). In discussion sessions, even the TA's are not sure what could have possibly been on Baugh's mind when writing them.

On either of the midterms, the questions themselves were, in fairness, a mixed bag. While about 1/3 of the questions had clear influences from the homework, allow me to be clear: there was no case, either on a quiz or a midterm, where a question asked on the midterm was of comparable difficulty to a question asked on the homework. The 1st quiz had one question based on the homework that was far harder than any homework question. The 1st midterm, same deal but with two questions. The 2nd midterm had a question on molecular geometry that was legitimately impossible to complete based on knowledge that one would have gotten from completing the homework - it would have required prior knowledge of geometry not covered in the class.

On a 6 question midterm, one could expect two problems with faint roots from the homework, two problems based on the reading, one question based on some topic that was particularly stressed in lecture, and a final question on a topic with origin unbeknownst to anybody, including the TA's. This would be alright, if there was some form of overlap between these materials. Unfortunately, all of the material covered by each of these ideas is completely mutually exclusive - the textbook is weak in that the problems rarely have anything to do with the reading, and Baugh is on a whole other tangent altogether.

In short, do not be deceived by previous grading curves in this class. I have yet to see the final or my final grade in the class, and, despite my scoring significantly above the average on every single assessment thus far, I could hardly have less confidence in what my final grade will be based on the grading system in the class (midterms don't even matter). Beren may appear to have a harder grading curve, but I assure you, it is a strictly easier and less stressful environment than you will ever be in while in Baugh's class.

Fall Quarter 2019
Christian Beren See Full Profile

Overall 4.0 Easiness 3.3 Workload 3.5 Clarity 3.8 Helpfulness 4.6

Most Helpful Review

It's Beren. Chances are, you gotta choose between Beren and Baugh. I don't even have to write anything else. Choose Beren.

Fall Quarter 2019
Emily Carter See Full Profile

Overall 2.1 Easiness 1.0 Workload 1.0 Clarity 3.1 Helpfulness 3.6

Most Helpful Review

Dr. Carter shows an apparent lack of preparation for lectures (especially when compared to Dr. Scerri). Also, she goes very fast, but stops to answer questions during lecture. It still isn't very helpful.
My biggest gripe is that you're continuously furiously jotting down notes every lecture, where Scerri's class can passively sit and follow along in their course readers, therefore greatly increasing the amount of material absorbed per lecture.
Be prepared to study hard on your own if you get Dr. Carter.
On the bright side, she's not that hard, just that her lackluster lecturing makes the course seem hard.

Jan. 14, 2004
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Peter Felker See Full Profile

Overall 2.3 Easiness 1.9 Workload 2.4 Clarity 2.2 Helpfulness 2.1

Most Helpful Review

As a biochemistry major, I can safely say that 20A is indeed a "weeder class" for the Physical Sciences. The material is as difficult as it gets and the tests are challenging. AP Chem students beware, 20A is mostly focused on quantum mechanics and structure, so all those equilibrium problems and thermochem concepts are not covered.

Felker himself is quite a knowledgeable professor. He's a spectroscopist and does a load of complicated research. However, he isn't the best lecturer. He briefly goes over chapters 1 and 2 (moles, mass percentages, stoichiometry, etc.) and puts great emphasis on chapters 3 to 6 (bonding and quantum mech.) He's generally easy to follow and explains CONCEPTS very well. The real tick about his lectures are that they cover nothing about how to solve the possible problems you encounter during the tests, and I mean NOTHING.

All the methods and and techniques you must learn on your own. There was mandatory online HW (which is 20% of your grade) but it is nowhere near the same difficulty as the tests. (Pro tip: DO THE STARRED PROBLEMS IN YOUR TEXTBOOK. DO NOT COUNT ON THE ONLINE HOMEWORK AS PRACTICE)

The TA's are... okay... My TA wasn't as helpful as I wanted him to be. I did find, however, that emailing the TA's helped a bit. Discussions aren't mandatory. The TA's did do a great thing for out class: set up a Facebook page for homework help and chem help. It certainly helped us and got many announcements through very quickly.

Just remember... Nobody will teach you techniques and formulas in this class. Learn them on your own. As for the lectures, you don't really need them for the tests, but if you want to understand the material from a conceptual stand point, it'll do you great justice to attend lectures and follow along with your textbook (His tests are open book, so take notes in your book.)

Study well!

Dec. 20, 2013
Benjamin Finck See Full Profile

Overall 4.5 Easiness 4.0 Workload 4.0 Clarity 3.5 Helpfulness 4.5

Most Helpful Review

The class was a much lighter workload compared to my other classes. Finck is an engaging lecturer, although he can occasionally get diverted on tangents. You can tell that he cares about teaching, and that's really refreshing to see in a professor.

Winter Quarter 2017
William Gelbart See Full Profile

Overall 4.4 Easiness 2.0 Workload 2.0 Clarity 3.8 Helpfulness 4.8

Most Helpful Review

He was VERY straight forward and his exams were pretty easy as long as you stay caught up with his lectures and the problem sets.
The problem set homework were hard at times, but most of the TAs just look for completion, so it's all good.
His midterms were based heavily on the practice midterms as well. The first midterm had an avg of 80. Second avg of 62 (he made the second one a lot harder, but still doable). The final was also like the practice exam.

He's pretty boring (i fell asleep every class, basically) but he puts up his lecture notes online and barely deviates from it.

He's VERY considerate of his students and sets aside a lot of office hours for them.

Decently funny at times, but I wouldn't really know cuz i slept a lot :<

MUCH better than scerri or lavelle.

Jan. 30, 2013
James Gimzewski See Full Profile

Overall 2.5 Easiness 1.8 Workload 1.3 Clarity 1.7 Helpfulness 2.2

Most Helpful Review

I didn't attend many lectures because his powerpoints were pretty much directly from the book. You're probably better off reading the book if you plan on learning something. I suppose he's a decent professor but I didn't go to many lectures to know anyway. The midterms were fair and his final was ridiculously hard. I walked out wanting to cry. But I ended up with an A- in the class so I suppose the curve was pretty high. If you had to choose between Gimzewski and Baugh, take Gimzewski!

Dec. 20, 2011
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