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I don't even have Professor Pham, but WOW this man can teach. He served as our guest lecturer this morning; throughout the lecture, students were just messaging in our class group chat about how AMAZING he was. He was funny, explained things in ways my 12-year-old brother could understand, and was super engaging. As everyone left the lecture hall, I saw countless people with their jaws dropped and basically screaming to their friends about how they couldn't believe they just experienced such a quality lecture. I'm pretty sure people even begged Professor Pham to continue "guest lecturing" for the rest of the quarter.
Going into the class I knew it was going to be very difficult due to the nature of ochem, and I was not surprised. However, one of the things Porfessor Pham emphasizes is how Ochem builds on itself, and how doing poorly on one test is not the end of the world. The way he teaches the class is really structured so you learn things in a way that they build off each other, so towards the end topics that may have been challenging at the beginning are easier because you've been working on them the whole quarter. A lot of people in the reviews from fall 2020 may say how he was unaccommodating and such, but I think the negative comments are due to a bias against him due to their own struggles. Also, please not I am not writing this from the perspective of a student who got As the whole quarter. I failed the first midterm out of 2, but I was able to improve my scores for the next midterm and the final. The class had 2 midterms and a final (50 points each), weekly BACON tutorials (40 points), Discussion attendance (40 points), and 5 problem sets due every other week (20 points each). However, he offered extra credit for answering poll questions, filling out surveys, and for doing an optional group project at the end of the year which my friends and I had a lot of fun doing. To conclude, don't be afraid to take his class, Pham is super clear and helpful, and it is worth it for the ask me anything he does at the end of the quarter :)
first time writing a bruinwalk review but I'm here for the pham defense squad bc i genuinely enjoyed taking ochem with him, and i feel like ppl who are bitter about him are mainly just bitter abt their grades.
tips for the material:
1. stay on track
look. you cannot slack off for this class. it's ochem, everything builds on each other, and you simply cannot cram it all in a couple days before an exam (unless you're some sort of genius, which, kudos to you, but i personally can't do short-term memory). granted, i took it during the pandemic, and having access to notes helped immensely, but you should still not rely on those during the exam bc looking through lecture slides is a waste of time, esp if you're in a time crunch; if you must, make YOUR OWN cheat sheets/review notes to CONFIRM what you already know during the test instead of looking at the material and learning it DURING the test lol. ik it's still passive learning, bc it's still a form of copying, but one of the biggest reasons i did well in this class is that i reviewed each topic and made my own sheets right after each lecture and didn't push it off before an exam. staying on track is super important.
enrolling in a PLF session also helped me personally bc it forced me to stay on track so that i can properly work with other peers.
2. practice, practice, practice
do as many practice problems as you can. the problem sets he gives are good indications of what to expect for exams, but they're not enough exposure in terms of familiarizing yourself with the material. do discussion worksheets (if Tony's still a TA I find his worksheets the most helpful!), ochem tutor on yt, khan academy, PLF worksheets; whatever it takes, until you're confident enough in the material. don't just look at the solutions—actually attempt them so that you're actively learning. the more practice problems you do, the more holes you will find in your knowledge so that you can correct yourself; it is much better to make a mistake in a practice problem compared to making a mistake on an exam. you'll also start noticing that ochem's not all specific memorization, but rather patterns that you can generalize to apply to each problem; once you figure that out, you will save so much brain space, and won't feel so overwhelmed anymore.
3. have a positive mindset
this isn't super necessary, but through personal experience if you act like you enjoy the material from the start you can eventually convince yourself that you genuinely do, which makes learning it so much easier. ochem, specifically 14d, has a bad reputation for being a premed weeder, but that's just from others' experiences, not yours. don't let its reputation intimidate you. (if you like to personify, it can smell ur fear, so show who's boss, you got this)
you have the potential to succeed, just like anyone else, but it is up to you and how you make of the material. if you're always bitter about this class as you're taking it, you won't feel motivated enough to study.
if you have test anxiety, power pose a couple minutes before the test (essentially just stand up and stretch to make urself appear bigger and boost that confidence; also doing some high kicks/light jogging in place to get ur blood moving helps with getting rid of those anxiety chills, as well as improving blood circulation to your brain to help with memorization). my TA Tony recommended this to us before the first exam, and my test anxiety has never been better (I've done it for every exam since, even ones outside ochem, and i no longer blank out :D ). if you've studied diligently, you know more than you give yourself credit for. you got this, so believe in yourself.
tips for pham:
I've seen ppl say he's unapproachable and condescending, but honestly the only questions I've witnessed him answer "with attitude" are just syllabus-related (i don't even see the attitude, really, he just has a resting b face sometimes lol). he doesn't like repeating the same logistic things over and over, so if your question is related to the class logistics chances are it's already been stated in the syllabus, you just need to find it. or, it's in the recorded lecture (if class is still online), which is what you should have watched anyway if you couldn't make it to that lecture.
if you're asking an ochem related question, he's not mean about it. in fact, he's super nice abt the material if you need help during office hours. since the class time is short, he might defer you to rewatching the recording instead if the question was asked multiple times during lecture, because it takes class time away so he'll be behind schedule otherwise.
if you ask to change the grading scale or only show concern abt your letter grade rather than the material itself, then will he seem "bitter". he really wants you to make the best of the material, or at least gain something out of his class, even if it's all online. fixating on your letter grade doesn't mean anything in the long run. just try your best on the material, and use your exam score as a reflection of your mastery in the material rather than a definition of your intelligence. i find that that is a true indication of him genuinely wanting students to succeed in this class.
lastly, abt the accommodations: I'm fortunate enough to still be in the same PST zone, but my heart does go out to all OOS students. he can't really change the time frames to accommodate everyone or give 24 hr exams bc then ppl post to chegg, so if your time zone sucks, you should honestly consider taking it a different quarter bc emailing him won't work :/ that's about the only negative I have with this class, although I do understand his concern with chegg, since things are online.
oh, and the grading scale:
Problem sets (x5) 30% - kinda like homework; given two weeks to do and submit on Gradescope
Take-at-home Exams (x3) 45% - basically MT1, MT2 and a final, all equally weighed (I personally also like that the final isn't worth more since i have other finals to worry abt that week too so my grade wont tank if i happened to do horrible on the final)
Discussion (x8) 12% - participation points, just need to show up 8 out of 10 times throughout the quarter for attendance, no need to submit anything
BACON Tutorials (x8) 12% - online "quizzes" where you go through a lesson and then answer four MC questions from that lesson; 10 total but 2 lowest ones are dropped
his grade cutoffs:
A+ (no EC) ≥ 99.0%
99.0% > A ≥ 94.0%
94.0% > A- ≥ 88.0%
88.0% > B+ ≥ 84.0%
84.0% > B ≥ 79.0%
79.0% > B- ≥ 75.0%
75.0% > C+ ≥ 69.0%
69.0% > C ≥ 62.0%
62.0% > C- ≥ 54.0%
54.0% > D+ ≥ 47.0%
47.0% > D ≥ 39.0%
39.0% > D- ≥ 30.0%
he gives a lot of opportunities for ec too (point total in my class was 330 and we could've gotten 18 points from ec alone
overall, i think he's a great prof. he knows his stuff, the workload isn't overwhelming, and his slides are easy to understand. he makes great analogies with the material to make it easier to digest abstract concepts, and is also a funny dude who gives deep talks abt life sometimes lol. i came out of that class with a greater appreciation for learning in general, which lowkey helped with how stressed i was as a student too?? my experiences could be different bc it was all online, but if Pham's offered, i highly recommend taking him for 14D.
While this professor has mainly positive reviews, there are some things about this class that deserve attention. Yes, Pham has very organized slides which include the material you need. Yet, this course requires a lot more than attending lecture/discussion to actually do well. For those who had a harder time understanding material, I do not think this professor was of much help AT ALL. He does provide some opportunity for extra credit, but if he was not FORCED to make the final optional during the pandemic, I probably would’ve failed this class because towards the end it was so fast paced and easy to fall behind with concepts. (For reference, I got a C on the midterm). He seemed to discourage asking questions and came off as rude upon confusion in office hours. Idk why this professor is so hyped up honestly.
Let me start off by saying that I have mad respect for anyone who took ochem in person. This class would have certainly been much more difficult if it weren't for the open note exams. There are so many reagents and reactions that you would have to memorize, and this class would have quickly become overwhelming. However, I was fortunate to take this class during covid. I won't say that online learning made this class easy because the material was still difficult, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Here's how I got an A with no ochem background besides 14C with Castillo, but before I do here's a break down of the points and grading scheme:
- Problem Sets (x5) = 100 points, 20 each (difficult to get perfect scores)
- Exams (x3) = 150 points, 50 each (very difficult to get perfect scores)
- Discussion Participation = 40 points (didn't have to turn the camera on or talk so should be easy points)
- BACON = 40 points (mini-lectures but should be easy points, just screenshot the notes before you take the post-quiz)
- 330 points total
- 8 points of EC for lecture poll questions
- 8 points of EC for Cryoff Project
- 2 points for surveys throughout the quarter
- A+: 99-100
- A: 94-99
- A-: 88-94
- B+: 84-88
- B: 79-84
- B- 75-79
- C+: 69-75
- C: 62-69
- C-: 54-62
- D+ and below: <62
First off, Pham is a good lecturer who keeps his class very organized which I was extremely thankful for, but he's not as incredible as other reviews say he is. In other words, he is a slightly overhyped professor, but he will still teach you well enough to pass or get in the B range if that's what you're looking for. What propelled me into the A range was Khan Academy. I can't say this enough but Khan Academy was a lifesaver for this course. I felt that their instructors explained the material much more thoroughly and I was able to understand the material waaaay better after watching their videos. If it weren't for Khan Academy, I would have struggled in this class, so my biggest advice to anyone who will take this class in the future is WATCH KHAN ACADEMY. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't go to Pham's lectures, but please use Khan Academy as a learning supplement.
Secondly, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, AND PRACTICE EVEN MORE. There is no understatement for this. Getting exposure to a wide variety of problems will make the exams so much easier. The TAs will all have their individual discussion worksheets, so get a hold of as many as you can (my TA was Tony and his worksheets were excellent). Additionally, completing Pham's biweekly problem sets were probably the best way to practice the material. Make sure you completely understand every problem because the problem sets were pretty similar to the format of the exams. I also want to point out that I never used the textbook, so I'm not sure if the suggested homework problems were useful but from what I've heard from others they aren't.
Lastly, GO TO DISCUSSION. The TAs and LAs were so helpful throughout the course of the quarter. Every week, I would use the discussion as a way to check my understanding of the past week's material. If I didn't understand a problem, I would rewatch Pham's lectures, watch Khan Academy videos, and try the problem again until I completely understood it. Since there is A LOT of material in 14D, and it is easy to fall behind, I highly recommend mastering the material on each week's discussion worksheets. Don't get lazy and think that you can study the material later; you're going to need to prepare for the exams far in advance.
Overall, 14D will be a huge time commitment. Here's my break down of the time I spent each week on the class:
- Lectures (2.5 hours)
- Khan Academy (2 hours)
- Discussion (1 hour)
- Discussion worksheet review to master material (1-2 hours)
- Problem Sets (1 hour/2 hours every 2 weeks)
- Bacon (<15 minutes)
- 5 hours of studying for each midterm
- 15 hours of studying for the final
This class will be hard, but it's doable if you put in the effort. Also, Pham doesn't offer many accommodations for his exam times (2 hour time window for midterms, and 3 hour time window for final), so make sure that you are available during the exact exam times. If not, email him at the beginning of the quarter because he seriously wouldn't take accommodations that were asked for even a week or two in advance. On a final note, if you want a better chance at an A, take this class online. I forgot so many reagents/reactions during the exams but thankfully I could just look back at the slides lol.
Such a goat, by far the best chem professor I've had at UCLA so far. Professor Pham is super understanding and knows what it's like to be a student. He's also just a really cool guy to talk to. Also, his tests are very fair and similar to his homework.
I took both 14C and 14D with Pham, and honestly he's one of my favorite professors. He's super straightforward with what will be on exams and is an awesome lecturer. He's often funny as well. The biggest tip for this class is to always practice reactions. I didn't have to study too much for 14C, but I had to study a LOT more for 14D because you would have to be familiar with the material.
OVERVIEW: Simply put, Pham is amazing. If you have the opportunity to take this class with him, he will make the introduction to organic chemistry as easy as it can. A fair warning: this class is not easy. Pham is an engaging and clear lecturer, and the class is set up to be as accessible as possible to help you learn best. He is extremely friendly, willing to help, and isn't boring: he has tons of personality, so go to office hours!
GRADING: The grading scale of this class is not curved. You aren't competing with anyone other than yourself, so work is required. Everything is graded with no weighting, so one point on the homework is worth the same as one point on the exam. There's a few opportunities for extra credit here and there, particularly bonus questions on the exams, for maybe a few percentage points. This quarter, he ended up bumping your grade up if you were only 1-2 points off from the cutoff, which was awesome!
HW: Homework is actually quite light if you pace yourself. There were only five assignments, each was about four pages of related material meant to correspond roughly with the lectures every two weeks. They are practically identical to the exams, which makes them excellent study material. Each is randomly assessed for accuracy, and also points are given for completion. Make a study group to do well! Homework alone is likely not enough to do well, but there are an infinite amount of worksheets from TAs and LAs accessible to anyone, plus lots of review sessions and solutions posted weekly. Expect to put in the time studying non-mandatory material. It is really nice to have few things to actually worry about turning in, however.
EXAMS: There are no quizzes in this class, at least not in the online format. This does make the amount of points from the two midterms and final (all weighted equally) substantial. A warning: the tests are difficult. However, the tests are fair. Everything on the test is gone over in lecture. Homework, as previously mentioned, is basically identical to the test. Tons of material is available for practice. In the online format, it was open note, but to be honest, if you do enough practice you'll be totally fine even without notes. For organic chemistry, a fair test with ample preparation is the best you can ask for. Each test also has bonus point opportunities.
SUMMARY: If you're considering taking this class, you must not fall behind. There is new information every lecture, and there's little time for review during the actual class. Make ample use of discussion time and office hours to ask your questions; the LAs, TAs, and Pham are all very happy to help and very accessible. If managed correctly, this class will not be as stressful as the 20 series can be because the format is just better, even if the material is harder.
to be honest, when i took 30a with pham, i didn't particularly like him. i was very intimidated by him in office hours, and i found it very difficult to get a straight/clear answer out of him. however, i actually really enjoyed 30b in person with him. i appreciated the fact that he's very transparent about his thoughts and opinions, and he has a very dry/sarcastic sense of humour. with the class being in person, his personality was a lot more evident, and it made learning from him very fun.
the class was out of 300 points. we had two midterms worth 50 points each, one final worth 100 points, five problem sets worth 15 points each, and BACON worth 25 points. The midterms had lowish averages (mt1 - 65% and mt2 - 67%), but i think that this is normal for an ochem class. he also give a lot of extra credit (it was something like 10 points not counting the 2 buffer points he has on tests). if you can do well on the problem sets, you'll do well on exams because he likes to put similar questions on his midterms. in addition to the extra credit, he scaled our class up so that a B was an 80%, which he said was right below the average.
overall, i think that pham is a great professor. to echo the other reviews, ochem will be hard no matter who is teaching it because of the sheer volume of material (30b had something like 100 reactions plus spec). pham doesn't try to make the class harder that it already is, and he's a fun person to be around. i enjoyed 30b with him, and i would take him again if i had the chance!
Pham is a great professor and explains the content in a way that's easy to understand. His slides are organized and super useful! He's also pretty funny and you won't get bored during lecture. He does go a bit fast times, but this allowed us to have extra time at the end of the quarter to go more slowly instead of cramming a bunch of material in. Exams were reasonable with time being the most difficult part, so I'd recommend having a good grasp on the material and not constantly referring to your notes. To study, I'd recommend doing as many TA worksheets as you can since they're all available to you and cover the content well (some are harder than tested material). Your grade also consists of problem sets (one due every 2 weeks), BACON (online tutorials relating chem to pop culture, mostly free points), and extra credit points he offers through in-class poll questions. Pham can be kinda blunt and almost condescending at times when you ask questions, but his actions show that he cares about students and will help you if you show a desire and interest in learning and not just getting a grade. That said, he's not super accommodating with online learning and I think most people all had to take the exams at a set time. Overall, I'd definitely recommend taking Pham because he really teaches you the material well and is also a good lecturer!