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Professor Tong is the worst math professor I have ever had. Never once have I struggled with a math class here before. I took the entire series Math 31A, 31B, 32A, 33A, and even Math 61 before this class and passed every single one with an A. I was very confident in my math abilities up until this point and everyone had told me that this class was by far the easiest in the series so I was not concerned when there was a new professor teaching it. Big mistake. Never take this class with Tong. Her lectures were not recorded and they were essentially fast audiobooks with her handwritten notes of the textbook. She spent too much time going over the parts of the chapter that weren’t important and then rushed the bits that were important for the homework. To add insult to the injury, everyone started getting sick around week 3 because of the frat flu and because lectures weren’t recorded it spread throughout the class and affected all of my other classes (since I got sick from this class during all the other midterms too). Just avoid her at all costs. She will make you question your math abilities. This class had absolutely no reason being this difficult.
Melissa Tong is hands down the worst math professor at UCLA. Here's a short list of why:
- No practice midterms or even practice problems, told us to "do problems"
- Did not make solutions for her midterms and would not elaborate on points you missed
- Ignored complaints from students even when the TAs went on strike, and was very unaccommodating
- Didn't reply to emails, rushed out of class as soon as it ended to try and avoid students
- Didn't tell us what we needed to know for exams, just said "These chapters"
- Couldn't even explain how integrals worked without giving NPC responses
- Blatantly told us certain things were acceptable for the exam and then double-backed on them (literally lied to students)
- Terrible lecturer who read from the book and couldn't even explain simple concepts
- Looks at the ground when talking to students (not very helpful when explaining why you missed half the points on a question)
- She spoke like an NPC who, once they ran out of dialogue options, started to glitch out.
She motivated me by showing that you don't have to be very capable as a person in order to have a Ph.D. in mathematics, which is quite shocking. 33B wasn't hard conceptually, but physically nearly impossible not to want to jump off Boelter after hearing her every lecture. Don't take her class if you want to understand the material, and don't take her class if you want an actual professor and not a robot.
Professor Tong basically read out of the textbook and would spend the entirety of lecture time just copying down the textbook onto her projected iPad, but worse: she would cut out some very important language in order to shorten down what she writes down and says, leaving me confused, and was unable to really answer people's questions - **I** could answer some of them better than she did! No lecture recording but she did post her "notes" from lecture on bruinlearn, so what I did for the entire class was simply correlate her written down notes to the sections in the textbook and then read the textbook rather than trying to understand her notes or lectures. If you *insist* on attending lectures, bring a laptop or iPad and just follow along in the textbook - trust me, it's very helpful. She also did not finish all of the content that was supposed to be taught in 33B. That being said, there were a couple sections where she deviated from the text examples, in one case because the text example was needlessly complicated, and towards the end to avoid linear algebra stuff.
Tong is just not proactive about anything: doesn't update the HW assigned problems until close to the deadline (she would very often put text questions down early and then push 30%+ of them to the next homework because she didn't get to them in the class), only posted question numbers for the HW so you can't be certain you're using the right textbook, left everyone, TAs included, clueless about what the exams would be like (btw many of the questions on the exams were copy-pasted from the textbook questions, a good chunk of which were assigned for HW, with numbers changed), left us in the dark about grading timelines, etc.
In general though, everything other than the lectures and logistics were decent: HWs were reasonable and representative of exams, the content covered wasn't that bad in length (as expected), exam difficulty was fine and grading for HWs was a bit on the harsh side so don't skip steps. No cheat sheet for exams and standard grade cutoffs/2 grading schemes with all exams or best midterm + final.
All of that being said, I wouldn't say she was absolutely horrible - nothing she did was her going out of her way to make the class worse or anything. Would definitely recommend another professor if possible, but Tong isn't the end of the world if you *have* to take it with her - just USE THE TEXTBOOK INSTEAD OF ONLY LECTURES. Also keep in mind, F22 was her first time teaching, so this may or may not have changed in future quarters.