Chemical Structure (Honors)
Fall 2018 - Alexandrova was an awesome lecturer, and although the class was difficult (especially her problem sets -- some of her problems are based on her own research and require you to think outside of the box), you will leave the class with a solid overview of quantum chemistry. Tests are difficult but not impossible, as she focuses more on applying concepts rather than computations.
I'm writing this now before i see my grade for chem 20AH so that i won't be as biased. There's really two things to rate here, the professor and the class chem 20AH. Professor Baugh is a nice easy going guy who just happens to be a friggin genius. He's a good teacher in class because he asks the class (of 60 or so) questions and interacts with them, which helps you get the course material. The thing i really liked about him is that he liked the kids who were normal and disliked the freakshows (and let me tell you, there are a few in Chem 20AH) who went to the library for supplemental quantum chemistry books the first day and then bithed when they were all checked out. I reccomend taking Professor Baugh and i did like his TA as well because they were real people, not chem people who'd never seen the light of day. before you go leaping to take chem 20AH, read the next paragraph. Chem 20AH is a kick in the teeth. I thought i knew at least a little something about chemistry before i took this class. It's absolutely nuts, if you're some kid who aced HS chemistry and is a humanities major looking for a "challenge" as so many of the people weeping were, then run from this class as far as your legs will carry you. If you're going into something this will actually be useful for, (biochem, chem etc.) take the class and get ready. Let go of everything you ever thought you knew about chem and just go with it. The first midterm was hard, the second was easier but still hard and the final was as hard as the first midterm, but was do-able provided you studied your a$$ off. If you go into this class expecting to be a jedi and get an easy A, forget it, but if you approach it with the mentality that you're a lamb going to the slaughterhouse, you'll hang in there and get a whole lot of high-level knowledge (i talked to one fo my third year friends and he said we got upper division classwork). If i get better than a C in this class im gonna frame the darn printout and hang it above my mantle.
Fall 2020 - Avoid Prof. Felker and let me tell you why: 1. His lectures are very conceptual 2. He never goes over homework or tells you how to apply all the formulas and theories into problems. 3. The wording of some problems on the tests is unconventional and designed to trick you as if he intentionally wants you to get a bad grade. The problems themselves are not hard but it takes forever to understand what it is saying. I understand that chemistry is supposed to be hard but getting a bad grade just bc of the unusual wording is not quite acceptable. 4. The online learning program he requires has a bunch of typos. I hate the feeling when I get stuck on a problem for a long time and start to doubt my intelligence and then find out that it's just that the answer key is wrong. But there are two things about Felker that I have to defend. I see people complaining that there is a lot of math involved in his hw problems. I hate math too but hey it is a college level chemistry and it is supposed to have this much math. I don't think Felker should be blamed for this one. Also people say that his lectures are boring. Again it is college level chemistry so the lectures are supposed to be boring (physics lectures can be interesting but I've never seen a prof who can make their chem lectures not boring). Try to avoid taking his 20A. But if you really have to, make sure that you took AP chem in high school. 4 or 5 on the AP chem definitely helps you understand his stuff better and makes your life less miserable.
Fall 2020 - I took this class during the COVID-19 pandemic in an online format. - As you will see from other reviews, regardless of the difficulty of this class, Professor Gelbart is the reason to take this class. He is extremely responsive to questions, flexible about his office hour times, and truly cares about student learning. During the pandemic learning format, he was willing to drop quizzes entirely from the grading scale and give more points to the homework sections of the grades, and allow us to choose between 1 and 2 midterms as a class. You will not have a professor who is more willing to work with you for the normal CHEM 20A route. - CHEM 20AH as a class itself is quite difficult and definitely brings more to the table than other classes. If you are not well versed in math (up to at least multivariable calculus) and physics (you need to understand vectors and energy), do NOT take this class. While certain classes are listed as corequisites, if you have not taken the relevant math/physics classes, you will have a very hard time. The material is extremely calculation focused, and much time is spent proving concepts numerically that would otherwise just be expected to be memorized in CHEM 20A. - The textbook is quite helpful in helping to understand certain parts of the lecture that weren't as clear, but is certainly not mandatory. Homework takes about 3-6 hours per week, depending on how you feel about the material and math. This does not include studying time and supplemental practice, which you should do a lot of. Discussions are optional but highly recommended; Derek was an excellent TA who covered everything Gelbart didn't get to in lectures. Lectures themselves are also posted on CCLE, including notes, which are very helpful as well. - The midterm and final were both available for 24 hours, though once it started you only had 3 hours to do it. Both time limits felt quite generous, though a tip is to be VERY careful on steps requiring lots of simplification and algebra, as if you have to redo those it will eat up your time. Quizzes were completely dropped and optional due to the pandemic, which was very accomodating. The homework and practice problems provided were extremely similar to the tests, i.e. tests were very fair and of a reasonable difficulty. - Overall, there is practically no reason not to take this class if you need it for a major requirement, unless you are not well-versed in the mentioned math/physics concepts. Even if you're not in the honors college, I would recommend taking CHEM 20AH with Gelbart. If you are in the honors college, well, you found the class to take for your credits! If you look at the grade distribution, despite the difficulty of the class, Gelbart is extremely generous in grading/curving. You'll be much less stressed in this class than others.
Correction: 36 pages of free-response. Yea...if the TA did make the final that would make sense because he is the worst TA I've ever had (which is half the problem of the class). You can tell how smart Gimzewski is and he's really into his stuff, but it doesn't come across well in lecture. He'll emphasize things in class they are very important strictly regarding chemistry, but the exams would have nothing to do with it. Get your hands on any of the optional books for the class. They explain much better what the textbook tries to do. And for those of you looking for someone funny during lecture, don't come here...except for when he makes a mistake and starts swearing in another languauge.
For some reason I thought Professor was kidding every time he said the assignment was going to be hard. If it was not hard, then it took a lot of time and effort on the student's part to learn the material. Professor goes over the material many times in class so as long as you pay attention and do the homework, the class should be straightforward for the most part. Of course it is an honors course so there will be many ways to test your understanding. I like the workload and the pacing of the class because it holds me accountable unlike other classes so I always know the material. Overall I had a great experience because Professor was entertaining in his lectures. His stories had a reason and helped when the material became too overwhelming. I doubt many professors at UCLA are as genuinely concerned and available to students as Professor are. I would recommend taking his class if you are interested in chemistry but know that the workload requires discipline.
Fall 2019 - Overall, I'm incredibly glad that I took this class in my first quarter at UCLA. The small class setting encourages a lot of collaboration and I definitely made a lot of friends that I might not have sitting in a large lecture hall. Professor Schwartz is incredibly kind and engaging and will do a lot for students especially if you reach out. Near the end of the quarter, we constantly joked around with the TA and professor and it never really felt like I was just being lectured at but really part of the class. The class only requires a course reader for homework and additional understanding and the textbook is optional and mainly for practice problems (I didn't read it at all and honestly barely read the course reader, the lectures are good!) In comparison to the 20A course, this course has an extra discussion section so you do spend a bit more time in class but a lot of students usually went to one or the other discussion sections and traded notes as we mainly just did practice problems in discussion. As well, I believe we finished everything the 20A course did (but only briefly touching upon some things that he expected you to know from AP Chem/Physics/Calculus so make sure you're familiar!) and aditionally were introduced to transition metals and spectroscopy as well as an awesome lecture about his research the day before Thanksgiving (which appeared as an extra credit problem on the final.) This class is the first time he's taught it in a bit so a lot of the previous comments about an extra credit problem or whatever on the midterm was completely wrong and threw a lot of us off-guard when the median came back to be around 65 for the first midterm and 62ish for the second one. This class is HARD. If you're premed I'd probably be a bit wary of taking this course if you really care about your GPA but the class is curved so don't let it discourage you if you want to learn a lot. All in all, I'd probably say that it isn't too hard to get a B, but you're really going to work hard for an A.