Gary A Williams
Department of Physics
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3.7
Overall Rating
Based on 20 Users
Easiness 2.1 / 5 How easy the class is, 1 being extremely difficult and 5 being easy peasy.
Clarity 3.8 / 5 How clear the professor is, 1 being extremely unclear and 5 being very clear.
Workload 2.4 / 5 How light the workload is, 1 being extremely heavy and 5 being extremely light.
Helpfulness 3.8 / 5 How helpful the professor is, 1 being not helpful at all and 5 being extremely helpful.

TOP TAGS

  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Is Podcasted
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Tough Tests
  • Issues PTEs
  • Useful Textbooks
  • Would Take Again
  • Needs Textbook

GRADE DISTRIBUTIONS

30.1%
25.1%
20.1%
15.1%
10.0%
5.0%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

33.3%
27.8%
22.2%
16.7%
11.1%
5.6%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

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Reviews (11)

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Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A+
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
March 3, 2021

I am from Rosenzweig's 1BH. I just got emotional and wanna relive the good old days from Gary's lecture. Miss him too much....

Helpful?

4 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Dec. 25, 2020

I came into college really delighted to learn about physics but now I just want to get as far away from physics as possible. Don't get me wrong, physics is interesting, but this class just doesn't spark that interest. I do not know if it is because of the online format due to the pandemic but I found the course to be really bad. Although I ended with an A in the class and am very grateful for the generous curve, I believe it wouldn't have needed to be this way if the tests were just more on par with the material. The concepts professor Williams covers in class do not align with the difficulty of the textbook which is where all the homework problems come from. I can see that the lectures are pretty similar to the sections in the textbook which I read for further clarity but the homework problems were just insane. The homework problems were nothing compared to the physics problems given in high school (this is coming from someone who scored 5's on all the AP physics exams). I had to find solutions to about 70% of the homework problems given (thankfully you can find the solution manual online). However, that experience is absolutely horrible as it completely diminished my sense of competence in this subject and destroyed my confidence for problem solving. He assigns 1 homework assignment a week with about 5-10 problems which seems very short but in reality takes a good amount of time to fully understand each problem. If it wasn't for the solution set I don't know how much time I would have needed to invest into the homework. What was really a curve ball was that the quizzes that were given each week were no where near as difficult as the homework problems. Those problems were more aligned with the questions given in high school. For the most part, this class focuses less on understanding topics conceptually but more on the algebraic aspects of solving problems. As long as you have a solid physics background this class should be an easy A but at the cost of your confidence in this field. As for raw scores, I received a 65% on both my midterm and my final and averaged to a 81% on the quizzes. For me, the most difficult part of this course were the harmonic oscillator chapter and the torque chapter. Also the lectures each week were not mandatory to attend so I just watched the recordings afterwards which I would usually have on 2x speed because I realized he talks and writes very very slow. It was at 1.5x speed that he seemed to talk at a normal pace. I honestly do not know what advice I can give because I was only barely able to grasp the course. If you only watch the lectures, attend discussion, and do the homework, expect around 8-10 hours a week on this class. If you decide to read the textbook (which I am not sure if it was beneficial or not but I did anyway), expect an additional 3 hours. Also, 80% of the lectures is just him going over proofs for equations and concepts but some of the proofs are very hard to grasp because he utilized calculus. The extent of calculus he used went up to 32B which involved the ideas of triple integral. For me, I never used calculus at all for the quizzes, midterm, and final but some homework questions it was necessary. Also, the TA was something else. Completely disorganized and super procrastination when it came to grading. Discussion sections were utterly useless because he would try to go over 1 problem and sometimes fail to understand the problem himself. But that is really just dependent on who you get as the TA so that shouldn't weigh your decision to take this class. One thing he was good at though was being lenient in grading. Overall, I do not recommend you take this course unless you are dead serious about majoring in physics. Otherwise, just stick with regular physics.

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2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Jan. 8, 2021

I don't want to be mean, but Gary's lectures were very boring. I know he can't help his voice, but it wasn't pleasant or engaging to listen to. Of course distance learning is in part to blame, but it was very difficult to pay attention and I found myself dozing off or being distracted for 90% of the lectures.
The homework was graded for completion and based on a textbook that most people found online for free -- along with a flawed solution manual. The exams were brutal. It's the type of physics exam where once you see the solutions, for most of it you think "well duh, of course," but then realize you missed half the points because of stupid mistakes or just not approaching the problem the same way. The class is kind of designed that way, though -- I got about 60% on both the midterm and the final, and got an A in the class, after all. But the thing with the curve is that it's only applied once the quarter is over, so while classes are still in session, it's hard to understand how screwed you are, except maybe by going around asking people how they scored.
Do as many practice problems as you can. Pester the TA (or Gary) when you want to clarify something. Do NOT just copy solutions for homework -- actually try to think through everything yourself, this is the only way to learn physics, though checking with the solutions to see if you're on the right track AFTER giving the problems an earnest effort definitely helps, especially if you're not too confident.
Even if you took physics -- even if it was AP Physics 1 and 2 -- in high school, you'll probably struggle.

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1 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A+
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Dec. 25, 2020

Grading:
The final grade depends on your ranks in homework grade(graded for completion), quizzes, midterm exam, and final exam. One can get A- if his grade is slightly higher than the average and B+ if slightly lower than the average. I presume one can get A+ if his grade is in the top 15%.

Quizzes:
One has 20 minutes to work on weekly quizzes and 20 minutes to submit them on the gradescope. I would say it's sufficient. The first quiz and the quiz on torque were a lot harder than others. The average for quizzes is 74%.

Exams:
Although the midterm exam and the final exam involved no calculus and limited vector, they are pretty hard. If you don't know how to solve a question, write any relevant stuff because responses are typically divided into correct, good attempt, attempt, and no attempt. The average for the midterm exam is 53% and 56% for the final exam.

Lectures:
The lectures were kind of boring and involved intense calculus and differential equation for some proof. There is no need to worry about damped oscillators and driven oscillators; they never appear in any quizzes or exams. The depth of the book's contents far exceeds that of lectures' contents, so the book is not really helpful.

I think if you have a 5 for AP Mechanics C, it won't be too hard to get an A-.

Helpful?

1 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: B+
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Dec. 18, 2020

BRING YOUR CALCULATOR TO THE TESTS! Please don't mess that up. But here's my review:

The textbook was very comprehensive for an intro level mechanics course, and had many interesting applications (particularly the radio example, radius of gyration, exoplanets, and the section on thermal energy). Very clever, but not necessary to get an A in this class. Do the homework, understand the basic concepts, and you'll get at least a B. I am not even sure if anyone got below a B-. That's true even if you get poor raw scores on the tests. I got a B+ from getting a 53% on the midterm and a 46% on the final. There is some physical subtlety to pay attention to. I lost 20 points on my final because of this; may have been the difference between an A- and a B+. But I digress.

Spend ample time on the homework problems; there aren't back of the book solutions but you can look them up if you get really stuck. And that is likely going to happen. The particular TA I had was very good at explaining conceptual material, but section was practically useless because the problems he solved were so disorganized. I get what he was going for, trying to solve them on a first try himself in front of us, but it often times didn't work out. The quizzes were usually fair enough, but there was one where we had to make an assumption that lead most of us to getting a low score (Quiz 6 with the ball anyone).

Personally, I found the course SOMEWHAT enjoyable overall. Lectures were usually pretty clear, but diverted from the way the book did things. Don't let your struggles in this course make you dislike physics; your confidence may be shaken and tested in this course. Also, the online format is nowhere near optimal for discussion and studying. Absolutely nowhere close. But it was still okay. I often times felt really stupid and spent hours reading the textbook. I think I wasted a lot of time doing that. So, work on the problems and pay attention to lectures primarily.

Helpful?

1 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Dec. 2, 2020

Don't know why the rating is so low.

Curve is too kind. Content is too interesting(especially the damped harmonic oscillator and the related example of the door.)

Take him.

Helpful?

4 3 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A+
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Dec. 25, 2020

This class is 10/10 for me. It's not too easy nor too difficult, Gary is nice and helpful, and the schedule was very flexible. There was a weekly quiz, but the question was easier than homework and I didn't have an issue with uploading.

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1 2 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A-
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
June 23, 2021

For reference, this is coming from someone who did well (5s) in AP Physics and Calculus in high school. I took this class alongside Math 32A.

This course made me rethink and rebuild my understanding of mechanics. The quizzes and exams basically destroyed my confidence in my ability to do physics but honestly, that was a good thing because it made me realize how much room I had to grow and improve as a student. The questions are the type that require you to sit down, reread the problem, and exercise your physical intuition to picture what's really going on. They're not impossible to solve; a significant part of the difficulty is solely from intimidation.

In terms of content, you should be okay as long as you have a decent understanding of mechanics and single variable calculus. Sometimes multivariable concepts (e.g. gradient, double/triple integrals) show up in the lectures and textbook but never (at least in my memory) in the homework, quizzes, or exams; you can definitely take this class alongside Math 32A (I would not say the same about Physics 1BH and Math 32B if you plan on continuing the 1H series, however). Most of the difficulty and honors content of this course comes from the physics side of things, not math.

Overall, if you want a really good understanding of introductory mechanics and if you're okay with having your ego significantly bruised, I would recommend this course.

Helpful?

0 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Jan. 5, 2021

if you're taking honors, you're here to be challenged. just don't panic! it's very hard, and nobody felt like they were going to do well throughout the quarter, but gary curves generously and rewards you for taking honors. in the end, if you like a challenge, you should take the class -- just don't give up and keep at it, and you'll be okay. prof. williams is a very sweet man and seems to care about his students, and his lectures made sense! and his exams were not nearly as bad as the hw, despite being difficult.

Helpful?

0 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: B+
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Jan. 1, 2021

Gary's lectures were good but boring. He does a really good job of answering questions clearly. This class is hard. Do all the homework problems, and then do some more. You should work with other people if you can. The answer key for the textbook is available on google. Grinding problems is the best way to prepare for the exams. The exams are hard, make sure you manage time well. There are some problem types that gary REALLY likes. Take note of these as they come up and study them well, it'll pay off for the midterm and final. The curve for this class is insane but you can still very easily "drop the ball". Don't get too discouraged if you don't do well in the class, it's rough (at least it was for me).

Helpful?

0 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A+
March 3, 2021

I am from Rosenzweig's 1BH. I just got emotional and wanna relive the good old days from Gary's lecture. Miss him too much....

Helpful?

4 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
Dec. 25, 2020

I came into college really delighted to learn about physics but now I just want to get as far away from physics as possible. Don't get me wrong, physics is interesting, but this class just doesn't spark that interest. I do not know if it is because of the online format due to the pandemic but I found the course to be really bad. Although I ended with an A in the class and am very grateful for the generous curve, I believe it wouldn't have needed to be this way if the tests were just more on par with the material. The concepts professor Williams covers in class do not align with the difficulty of the textbook which is where all the homework problems come from. I can see that the lectures are pretty similar to the sections in the textbook which I read for further clarity but the homework problems were just insane. The homework problems were nothing compared to the physics problems given in high school (this is coming from someone who scored 5's on all the AP physics exams). I had to find solutions to about 70% of the homework problems given (thankfully you can find the solution manual online). However, that experience is absolutely horrible as it completely diminished my sense of competence in this subject and destroyed my confidence for problem solving. He assigns 1 homework assignment a week with about 5-10 problems which seems very short but in reality takes a good amount of time to fully understand each problem. If it wasn't for the solution set I don't know how much time I would have needed to invest into the homework. What was really a curve ball was that the quizzes that were given each week were no where near as difficult as the homework problems. Those problems were more aligned with the questions given in high school. For the most part, this class focuses less on understanding topics conceptually but more on the algebraic aspects of solving problems. As long as you have a solid physics background this class should be an easy A but at the cost of your confidence in this field. As for raw scores, I received a 65% on both my midterm and my final and averaged to a 81% on the quizzes. For me, the most difficult part of this course were the harmonic oscillator chapter and the torque chapter. Also the lectures each week were not mandatory to attend so I just watched the recordings afterwards which I would usually have on 2x speed because I realized he talks and writes very very slow. It was at 1.5x speed that he seemed to talk at a normal pace. I honestly do not know what advice I can give because I was only barely able to grasp the course. If you only watch the lectures, attend discussion, and do the homework, expect around 8-10 hours a week on this class. If you decide to read the textbook (which I am not sure if it was beneficial or not but I did anyway), expect an additional 3 hours. Also, 80% of the lectures is just him going over proofs for equations and concepts but some of the proofs are very hard to grasp because he utilized calculus. The extent of calculus he used went up to 32B which involved the ideas of triple integral. For me, I never used calculus at all for the quizzes, midterm, and final but some homework questions it was necessary. Also, the TA was something else. Completely disorganized and super procrastination when it came to grading. Discussion sections were utterly useless because he would try to go over 1 problem and sometimes fail to understand the problem himself. But that is really just dependent on who you get as the TA so that shouldn't weigh your decision to take this class. One thing he was good at though was being lenient in grading. Overall, I do not recommend you take this course unless you are dead serious about majoring in physics. Otherwise, just stick with regular physics.

Helpful?

2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
Jan. 8, 2021

I don't want to be mean, but Gary's lectures were very boring. I know he can't help his voice, but it wasn't pleasant or engaging to listen to. Of course distance learning is in part to blame, but it was very difficult to pay attention and I found myself dozing off or being distracted for 90% of the lectures.
The homework was graded for completion and based on a textbook that most people found online for free -- along with a flawed solution manual. The exams were brutal. It's the type of physics exam where once you see the solutions, for most of it you think "well duh, of course," but then realize you missed half the points because of stupid mistakes or just not approaching the problem the same way. The class is kind of designed that way, though -- I got about 60% on both the midterm and the final, and got an A in the class, after all. But the thing with the curve is that it's only applied once the quarter is over, so while classes are still in session, it's hard to understand how screwed you are, except maybe by going around asking people how they scored.
Do as many practice problems as you can. Pester the TA (or Gary) when you want to clarify something. Do NOT just copy solutions for homework -- actually try to think through everything yourself, this is the only way to learn physics, though checking with the solutions to see if you're on the right track AFTER giving the problems an earnest effort definitely helps, especially if you're not too confident.
Even if you took physics -- even if it was AP Physics 1 and 2 -- in high school, you'll probably struggle.

Helpful?

1 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A+
Dec. 25, 2020

Grading:
The final grade depends on your ranks in homework grade(graded for completion), quizzes, midterm exam, and final exam. One can get A- if his grade is slightly higher than the average and B+ if slightly lower than the average. I presume one can get A+ if his grade is in the top 15%.

Quizzes:
One has 20 minutes to work on weekly quizzes and 20 minutes to submit them on the gradescope. I would say it's sufficient. The first quiz and the quiz on torque were a lot harder than others. The average for quizzes is 74%.

Exams:
Although the midterm exam and the final exam involved no calculus and limited vector, they are pretty hard. If you don't know how to solve a question, write any relevant stuff because responses are typically divided into correct, good attempt, attempt, and no attempt. The average for the midterm exam is 53% and 56% for the final exam.

Lectures:
The lectures were kind of boring and involved intense calculus and differential equation for some proof. There is no need to worry about damped oscillators and driven oscillators; they never appear in any quizzes or exams. The depth of the book's contents far exceeds that of lectures' contents, so the book is not really helpful.

I think if you have a 5 for AP Mechanics C, it won't be too hard to get an A-.

Helpful?

1 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: B+
Dec. 18, 2020

BRING YOUR CALCULATOR TO THE TESTS! Please don't mess that up. But here's my review:

The textbook was very comprehensive for an intro level mechanics course, and had many interesting applications (particularly the radio example, radius of gyration, exoplanets, and the section on thermal energy). Very clever, but not necessary to get an A in this class. Do the homework, understand the basic concepts, and you'll get at least a B. I am not even sure if anyone got below a B-. That's true even if you get poor raw scores on the tests. I got a B+ from getting a 53% on the midterm and a 46% on the final. There is some physical subtlety to pay attention to. I lost 20 points on my final because of this; may have been the difference between an A- and a B+. But I digress.

Spend ample time on the homework problems; there aren't back of the book solutions but you can look them up if you get really stuck. And that is likely going to happen. The particular TA I had was very good at explaining conceptual material, but section was practically useless because the problems he solved were so disorganized. I get what he was going for, trying to solve them on a first try himself in front of us, but it often times didn't work out. The quizzes were usually fair enough, but there was one where we had to make an assumption that lead most of us to getting a low score (Quiz 6 with the ball anyone).

Personally, I found the course SOMEWHAT enjoyable overall. Lectures were usually pretty clear, but diverted from the way the book did things. Don't let your struggles in this course make you dislike physics; your confidence may be shaken and tested in this course. Also, the online format is nowhere near optimal for discussion and studying. Absolutely nowhere close. But it was still okay. I often times felt really stupid and spent hours reading the textbook. I think I wasted a lot of time doing that. So, work on the problems and pay attention to lectures primarily.

Helpful?

1 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
Dec. 2, 2020

Don't know why the rating is so low.

Curve is too kind. Content is too interesting(especially the damped harmonic oscillator and the related example of the door.)

Take him.

Helpful?

4 3 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A+
Dec. 25, 2020

This class is 10/10 for me. It's not too easy nor too difficult, Gary is nice and helpful, and the schedule was very flexible. There was a weekly quiz, but the question was easier than homework and I didn't have an issue with uploading.

Helpful?

1 2 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A-
June 23, 2021

For reference, this is coming from someone who did well (5s) in AP Physics and Calculus in high school. I took this class alongside Math 32A.

This course made me rethink and rebuild my understanding of mechanics. The quizzes and exams basically destroyed my confidence in my ability to do physics but honestly, that was a good thing because it made me realize how much room I had to grow and improve as a student. The questions are the type that require you to sit down, reread the problem, and exercise your physical intuition to picture what's really going on. They're not impossible to solve; a significant part of the difficulty is solely from intimidation.

In terms of content, you should be okay as long as you have a decent understanding of mechanics and single variable calculus. Sometimes multivariable concepts (e.g. gradient, double/triple integrals) show up in the lectures and textbook but never (at least in my memory) in the homework, quizzes, or exams; you can definitely take this class alongside Math 32A (I would not say the same about Physics 1BH and Math 32B if you plan on continuing the 1H series, however). Most of the difficulty and honors content of this course comes from the physics side of things, not math.

Overall, if you want a really good understanding of introductory mechanics and if you're okay with having your ego significantly bruised, I would recommend this course.

Helpful?

0 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
Jan. 5, 2021

if you're taking honors, you're here to be challenged. just don't panic! it's very hard, and nobody felt like they were going to do well throughout the quarter, but gary curves generously and rewards you for taking honors. in the end, if you like a challenge, you should take the class -- just don't give up and keep at it, and you'll be okay. prof. williams is a very sweet man and seems to care about his students, and his lectures made sense! and his exams were not nearly as bad as the hw, despite being difficult.

Helpful?

0 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: B+
Jan. 1, 2021

Gary's lectures were good but boring. He does a really good job of answering questions clearly. This class is hard. Do all the homework problems, and then do some more. You should work with other people if you can. The answer key for the textbook is available on google. Grinding problems is the best way to prepare for the exams. The exams are hard, make sure you manage time well. There are some problem types that gary REALLY likes. Take note of these as they come up and study them well, it'll pay off for the midterm and final. The curve for this class is insane but you can still very easily "drop the ball". Don't get too discouraged if you don't do well in the class, it's rough (at least it was for me).

Helpful?

0 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
1 of 2
3.7
Overall Rating
Based on 20 Users
Easiness 2.1 / 5 How easy the class is, 1 being extremely difficult and 5 being easy peasy.
Clarity 3.8 / 5 How clear the professor is, 1 being extremely unclear and 5 being very clear.
Workload 2.4 / 5 How light the workload is, 1 being extremely heavy and 5 being extremely light.
Helpfulness 3.8 / 5 How helpful the professor is, 1 being not helpful at all and 5 being extremely helpful.

TOP TAGS

  • Tolerates Tardiness
    (4)
  • Is Podcasted
    (5)
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
    (6)
  • Tough Tests
    (9)
  • Issues PTEs
    (5)
  • Useful Textbooks
    (7)
  • Would Take Again
    (6)
  • Needs Textbook
    (8)
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