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Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
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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 highly recommend this course. She is an amazing professor and finds a way to explain difficult concepts in a way that a first year undergraduate could understand. Office hours are very helpful, even if you don't have specific questions, as you can just listen in on other kids' questions. Shout out to Derek for being an awesome TA.
In my experience, the book was not helpful. As long as you go to her lectures and understand everything she writes down, you'll be fine.
But don't be fooled by the grade distribution. You will work for that A. But it'll be worth it in the end.
I took 20AH purely because this professor had such good reviews in comparison to the 20A professors. I think she lived up to them. Her tests were very challenging but the class really teaches you how to study and adapt to hard material which will be invaluable later in your college experience.
I think I learned a lot from this class and she was pretty clear in her explanations. She is very nice and always checks in for understanding.
Workload wise you have one problem set due a week I believe. You should buy the textbook on Oxtoby to read. Two midterms, one final. Some random extra credit is offered (ex. if someone asks a question in class she doesn't know the answer to, she will make it extra credit if someone researches it and writes a paper on it). Her tests are in the test bank and a lot of her problem sets are based on papers she has published in the past which you can look up.
At the end of the class she curves her class median to an A- because she thinks her students are hardworking and smart and deserving. A great professor!!
Easily the best professor I've ever had! She literally takes a concept about chemistry and uses them to their fullest potential, such as clearly explaining what "quantization" is or why band diagrams matter. I also love how she tackles against some of the textbook's claims like how the correlation diagrams (those that model complex chemical bonding) are supposed to be formatted. Most of all, she reminds us every once in a while what the purpose of this "otherwise redundant" class is as she encourages us to understand how and why atoms bond with each other. Nothing more, nothing less.
With all these instances, I was looking forward to this class every time it approached, even if it's five days a week. I would certainly take Professor A. again if I had the chance.
If I had one thing to caution about this class, it would be to know what you're going to ask during office hours, because it is always crowded whenever it happens. Other than that, enjoy the course while it lasts, as an experience like this won't happen every quarter.
If you're like me, you will probably decide to take this class simply because the professor has really good ratings on Bruinwalk. But let me warn you, this class is quite difficult, yet manageable if you put in the required amount of effort into it. While the regular Chem 20A class was more quantitative, the honors section required a much deeper qualitative understanding of the topics that were covered. We also learned about 1-2 more chapters of information than the regular class. Also, AP Chem did not help for the majority of this class; periodic trends and VSEPR models were among the few overlapping topics.
Professor A is a very clear and organized lecturer, although oftentimes I found that I was just mindlessly copying down what she was writing on the board just because she covered so much content. That being said, I loved my TA Derek for reexplaining and clarifying the previous week's material on a weekly basis. However, Professor A did make it very clear when she was covering a topic that was highly likely to show up on an exam.
The homework at first was on OWL (a supplementary database for our textbook), and these assignments were tedious but fairly simple. After a while, the professor realized that these were not necessarily helping us prepare for exams, so she started to send us weekly assignments with questions that she had written herself. There were quite difficult and required many hours worth of outside researching (and a lot of collaboration with other classmates). But these assignments were definitely more useful for understanding concepts for exams.
As for the exams, Professor A initially told us that they would be open note and open book (as she had done in the past), but when she came to know that many students did not have physical copies of the textbook but rather had a PDF, she made all of her exams closed note and closed book. The midterms were definitely difficult, but the 1st one was more quantitative than the 2nd one. Schrodinger's equation/hamiltonian (electronic and full), particle in a box, and Jahn Teller distortion (especially with benzene) were some of her favorite topics and are certain to show up on one or more of her exams.
Overall, Professor A was a very understanding professor. If you wanted to clarify or discuss more in depth something she talked about in class, then her office hours were a good time for that. Also, she knows that the honors class is difficult, so she curves the class to an A-, which was a blessing. Even so, it is important to know that while it seems like this class is an "easy A" just from looking at the grade distribution, you have to put in a lot of work to get a good grade.
Professor Alexandrova is very good at what she does and it shows in how hard she pushes her students. The class is by no means easy, but I do think it is very doable--especially if you love chemistry. If you're thinking about taking the honors course because you scored well in AP Chem like I did, and you expect this course not to challenge you, you're in for an awakening. The course is nothing even close to being similar to the AP curriculum (although some things from the IB curriculum do pop up). However, Prof. A's class is extremely interesting. The homework will always take longer than you think if you want to score well, but the TA's are very forgiving (make sure you sight your answers if you google them!) She will make you read research papers (often her own) to help you understand the material or do the homework, but they are all very manageable. At the same time, the homework is always harder than the tests. Overall the class is very worthwhile if you are looking to get introduced to groundbreaking chemistry in an accessible, paired down version.
This class is amazing, Alexandrova is a god, and you learn soooo much. She digs deep into all the why's and really cares more that you understand the concepts then can memorize or do calculations... and her tests reflect that. Her lectures are interesting and organized, and the homework is very helpful (Also, hard. Work together!) although it does require some internet research. Site your sources (half the time they're her published papers). I had a wonderful TA, Derek, who was also really helpful in adding clarity to the more complex aspects of the class, but no matter the TA Alexandrova is worth it!
Prof AA is a passionate lecturer, but sometimes I feel like she is just too smart to teach. She talks and draws orbitals on the blackboard very fast, so it can be hard to follow and take notes of everything. Overall though, she works to make herself available and always tries to explain all questions, both in class and in office hours.
However, if you're debating between this class and a regular chem class with a worse professor (like I was), keep in mind that because this is honors, it really is harder. We covered another chapter or two more material than the regular classes and didn't get a cheat sheet (though most formulas and constants are provided). She generally doesn't believe in memorization and the second midterm and final were both qualitative, so you didn't need a calculator. I'd say the tests are overall fair- it was nothing totally unreasonable, but they aren't easy either.
This was a good class, but the homeworks were hard and generally stretched my brain's ability to google and understand concepts. On the bright side, because it's honors she curves the class to an A-.