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.
Fall 2018 - Ben is one of the best professors I've had at UCLA and the best professor to learn quantum mechanics from on this campus (The man is effectively a quantum mechanic (?) himself and he understands the material to the bone). This class is HARD. You start with a linear algebra review and then hit the difficult abstractions of the subject right away. The first problem set is pretty easy, the rest get extremely hard and will take a lot of effort to figure out. His grading is 50% homework so the class is meant for you to figure out stuff via problem sets, a teaching philosophy that I quite like. It's strongly recommended you have a good math background to succeed in the class because quantum mechanics is a physics class after all. He does not hold back here. Work together and work with Ben. This class is very rewarding if you take the time with it.
Winter 2019 - This class was a bit less enjoyable than 115A/215A. The material becomes more application based and you really start digging into how to use the subject. It's kind of gross, how mathematical it can be and the class is much slower as a result. That being said it doesn't stop it from being extremely useful. You learn a lot about molecular structure and finally hit quantum chemistry in the last couple weeks, going over the basics for the popular methods you see in research (Hartree-Fock, Slater orbitals, DFT, the basis for MO theory etc.) The homework is less frequent and easier. The big thing about this class is that there is a project at the end of the quarter in which you use Gaussian to ask a science based question and write a 3-5 page paper on it.
Took 123A&B The class is hard simply because the subject matter is incredibly hard. However, his lecture is clear and understandable--an amazing feat on its own because of how hard the subject is. Notes are provided days beforehand so you can print and read it during lecture without writing scrambling to write notes---which helps a lot. Overall very impressed with his teaching skill