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Biochemistry is hard, there’s no doubt about it - and the 6-week summer variant of this class makes it feel like you are drinking water from a fire hydrant. Dr. He does not make it easier. With a non-transparent, micro-detail grading rubric, and exam questions designed to be ambiguous AND penalize you for writing over sentence limits, it’s clear that this class was structured to weed out pre-meds, rather than to facilitate student learning.
This is the only class I have ever taken at UCLA that penalizes the WHOLE class for regrade requests made by each student; the TA told us that when a regrade is approved, the student may have their score improved but all other students’ grades drop as a result. There was outrage resulting from students’ grades dropping AFTER their exam scores were released this quarter. Mind you, this policy was not made transparent on either the syllabus or rubrics, it was just offered as an explanation after-the-fact.
Furthermore, grades were due today, and our final exams were released 30 minutes before midnight, with an email explaining that “since today is the final day”, no regrade requests would be accepted, no curves made, and no corrections accepted. Although convenient for the Biochem grading team, it reflects the “deduct first, ask questions later” policy that has been shown all quarter.
Having said all that, I can’t recommend Dr. He for Chem 153A. Do yourself a favor - save yourself a lot of headache - and take someone else.
Dr. He was not a helpful Professor whatsoever, and I do not recommend her for Chem 153A at all.
Firstly, she is incredibly unclear during lectures. She stutters a lot, it can be somewhat difficult to understand her at times, she *constantly contradicts herself* (for example, at one point in the lecture she'll say a process works in a 1-2-3 order but then, later on in lecture, she'll contradict herself and say that a process instead works in a 3-2-1 order).
Secondly, she isn't very helpful outside of class. Some of us have other responsibilities outside of lectures and aren't able to attend office hours, myself included, and I voiced this concern to her. There was a question some of us classmates had in regards to a time that she had contradicted herself in lecture, and in the email that was sent her with the question, she replied by saying to ask during office hours. Long story short, we never got the question answered.
Thirdly, there was nothing to practice with aside from 2/3 page worksheets that we would receive a week. This was a problem for many of us students, and despite us all asking her for more supplemental materials and more things to practice with, she never delivered that to us.
Fourth, the exams were graded extremely harshly and often had very vague questions. There was a time during our first exam where we were asked to find the answer to a question, and it wasn't written down what things were expected of our answers (in other words, it was a very general question with no specifications of what should be included in our answer). Upon a majority of the class getting a huge point loss on that question, we saw that the rubric required us to write a certain part of the answer that wasn't specified in the question. This caused a lot of anger in the class, and we continued to see this trend on the rest of our exams.
Lastly, a lot of us were concerned about our final grade in the class and we had all talked to Professor about possibly having a small extra credit opportunity or something that can help us boost our grades up a little bit, but she never took into consideration our concerns.
If you can avoid this Professor, by all means, do so. She is unclear and disorganized, and I would not recommend her to anyone else.
The final exam really brought down my grade and I missed the A- benchmark by just a few points even though I did well the entire quarter. Just be mindful of the confusion that often comes up during exams since many questions are oddly phrased!
Since she now has an entry in Chem153A, this will be a repost of my 153A review of Professor He from her 153B page when she was not listed under this class previously.
Quite possibly one of the worst classes I took at UCLA. This class is further proof that the chemistry department at UCLA is where dreams and happiness go to die. Do you like review sheets that are barely a quarter-page long and are basically the titles of your PowerPoint slides? Do you like TA's that are either extremely unhelpful or sound like they hate this class as much as you do? Do you like a professor that gives you barely any guidance on what you need to know and makes you hate biochemistry more than you did initially? Well, Cuiwen He is the professor for you.
The five-star ratings for this professor are given by people who like to lick boots after getting an A and do not reflect how insufferable this class actually is. Probably the highlight of this class is the TA's secretly deducting a majority of the class's midterm scores by 10 points because they forgot to include hydrogens on the protein backbone, despite people being told they didn't have to. Mind you, this was AFTER the TA's messed up in deducting some people and not others. Do you like seeing your grade magically decrease because a TA was too incompetent to grade properly the first time and follow the rubric? Then this is the class for you.
Questions on tests are vague and confusing and sometimes rely solely on what comes out of the professor's mouth at a specific time point of a lecture, stutters and all. Questions on quizzes are extremely difficult and focus on details that the professor failed to explain thoroughly. Taking this class with open books and open notes was already difficult enough, so I could not imagine taking this in a normal setting without wanting to blow my brains out. Lectures make you want to fall asleep and the TA's, save for one, are extremely unhelpful, so I didn't even bother going to discussions.
The only benefit was that everything was open note and open Internet. The only way you can make this class bearable is by having a study group. I could not imagine taking this class alone in its entirety. This class was a gigantic mess and just goes to show why Chem/Biochem at UCLA is nothing but pain and suffering. Take with a different professor, and this goes without saying, but do not take this class if you do not have to.
Professor He was a nice professor, and I got an A- due to my own incompetence, otherwise it is quite possible to get an A in the class if you put in the work. Would recommend. All the best fellow pre-meds, we got this XOXO
I took chemistry 153A with Dr. He summer 2021. Let me preface this review by saying that Dr. He's tests were relatively fair. At least for me, there was nothing on the exams that was not covered in class or that I found were unexpected. Like others have mentioned, there is a lot of ambiguity with some exam questions. Sometimes you write an answer that you think deserves full points, or at least most points, but you get a zero. When it comes to exams, I found that the grading was a little unfair as there was almost no room for error. This wouldn't have been as much an issue with me had the tests been multiple choice, but when you are given a free response exam and get an entire 6 or even 10 point question wrong because you forgot to mention one specific thing, despite having the correct reasoning and an otherwise correct answer, it is hard to say it isn't unfair. The TAs did not have any free reign on giving partial credit, so be prepared for that.
This class also had 3 short 5 question quizzes, which I found pretty easy. The quizzes and exams were all open note. Study for the quizzes and you should be fine. The midterms and final have questions that you would expect, but remember to pay very close attention to what the question is asking and try to figure out what exact response the professor is looking for. At times, I felt that the exam was hard in the form that it was almost impossible trying to figure out what kind of answer the professor wanted from us. Also, expect to have an entire question marked wrong if you don't have the FULL correct answer (there is almost no partial credit).
If you expect extra credit or a curve, this is NOT the class for you. I was literally ONE point away from an A-, but she did not bump me up. I think it is fair to say that this course was designed to weed out some students. Not that it is necessarily Dr. He's fault or the departments', but that's just a word of caution as I am sure this might also apply to many other pre-med courses.
Your grade in this class depends on 3 short quizzes which were open for 24 hours (but you only have like an hour to do the quiz once you start), two midterms, final, discussion worksheets, and clicker questions. The content of this class was not too difficult in my opinion.
This class content was hard but doable. However, I think communication and clarity between the Professor and students about the logistics of the class were poor. Grades dropping after the final exam sucked. Also probably not indicated in the syllabus, but the professor does not accept regrades for finals. Also, this class is not curved and there is no extra credit. Good luck!
Professor He had so much material to cover in 6 weeks that it often felt rushed, but I really thought her lectures were engaging and clear. I just rewatched lectures to study (didn't open the textbook at all) and it honestly worked because she doesn't test on anything outside of her covered slides. I agree with other reviews that say more practice problems would be helpful but the majority of her exams are conceptual questions that incorporate what we've learned in class.
She's also pretty accommodating by holding extra office hours, which are often really helpful but she doesn't have any extra credit opportunities.
Overall, she's a really good and engaging professor but her exams can be slightly difficult, but I'd recommend rewatching her lectures on 2x speed and annotating her lecture slide PDFs.
153A's difficulty gets talked up a lot, and while it is true that this class will be somewhat of a struggle no matter what, I think Dr. He made it decently manageable. There's just a LOT you have to know. She was always willing to host extra office hours on exam weeks and stick around to answer questions after class. She was very fair and willing to drop quiz questions with unclear wording. Lecture pacing could sometimes be off, and the last week of class ended up feeling pretty rushed with lots of lectures going overtime. I think Dr. He hadn't quite felt out a good steady pace for the class since she hadn't taught 153A before, so this might not be a problem in the future.
However, this course was not without its problems. For practice, we were given discussion worksheets which were graded on completion. The sprawling content of 153A can't be covered in the span of a 2-3 page weekly worksheet, and I wish we had additional practice problems designed to fit the course to reinforce concepts. The textbook was generally helpful, but its own example problems did not really match the course content. For the most part, though, the worksheets gave us a VERY good idea of what might show up on the exams.
On exams, it's really important to be as specific as you can while remaining concise. You should also try to mirror the terms used in class to describe concepts. Tests are tough, but doable.
Another issue I had with the class was the regrade system. If you submitted a regrade request for a certain question and the grader found another student's exam who got full credit for the same answer you put down, this could result in the other student's grade going down instead of your own grade being raised. A decent amount of people who didn't submit regrade requests lost points after final grades were released for the first exam as a result. I'd never heard of a grading system like this, and I felt kind of on edge after I got my grade back for the second exam because I was worried about it suddenly decreasing.
All in all, the course could have gone worse. It was a lot of work, but if you can put in the effort and find a way of studying that works for you, you can definitely come out with a good grade. The material all builds on itself and relates back to the human body, which was helpful for me when it came to remembering things.