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I took this class as an undergraduate in my sophomore year. It was pretty fast paced but still possible to take as one's first algebra class. The primary difference between this and 110A is that the undergraduate class only covers group theory while Merkurjev spends the second half of the quarter on category theory.
Lectures were the best I've had at UCLA in terms of clarity. However, Merkurjev doesn't interact much with students so it's on you to pay attention and take notes. He has a handout that he uploads at the beginning of the quarter and lectures closely follow the handout. The content got a little bit too abstract for me towards the end but take that with a grain of salt as this was only my second ever rigorous/proof-based math class here.
HWs took me about 5 hours a week to complete and were graded very leniently. Tests are similar to HWs. They're not incredibly hard but the professor grades them very strictly. If your argument is not perfectly clear, you'll most likely get a 0 in that question. However, since it's a grad class, the curve is pretty lenient. Tests are open notes and open book (you're also allowed to carry laptops/tablets but you can't use the internet) which helps quite a bit if you practice for the tests by solving exercises from textbooks. Discussion sections mostly focused on solving past algebra qualifying exams which I didn't love.
Overall, it's a challenging class but worth it if you're willing to put in extra effort.