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Considering that this is ochem and one of the most notoriously difficult subjects, I cannot tell you how glad I am I took this class with Corsello as a professor.
The concepts are tough and you definitely need to read the textbook and/or watch videos to wrap your head around it, especially since there's a lot of content to go over in only 10 weeks. Luckily, the professor spends a good amount of time reviewing material, clarifying concepts, and doing practice problems, and the problem-sets closely resemble the structure and difficulty of exams. He doesn't care very much about obscure details or minute technicalities, and makes it really clear that he wants you to be able to think critically and understand the most relevant and important concepts. Attending discussion is extra credit, and usually an extra credit question makes its way onto the both midterms.
The professor himself is a super stand-up dude; he's extremely responsive to student questions and has an underrated sense of humor that students often miss in the haze of functional groups and carbocation intermediates. Office hours really help for asking questions and going through examples, and he'll often go through the reaction mechanisms in greater detail there as well.
If you treat this course like an organic chemistry course-- a course where you need to study your ass off, memorize a good handful of facts and chemical characteristics, and practice problems routinely to get good at the mechanisms-- you'll have no problem being successful and even enjoying yourself in the process.
Great prof for what's usually known as an extremely hard class. The mean on the midterms was a 75% and 70%, and on the final it was a 67%. Which would add up to around a B- in the class. lectures, OH, and discussions are useful. Midterms were quite similar to the problem sets, just a tad bit more difficult. problem sets are graded on completion, which means you're more likely to just write down nonsense for the credit. Don't though, because the practice is really helpful.
Dr. Corsello was very helpful, understanding, clear and wrote fair midterms, the final was kinda hard though.
One critique is that sometimes he'll start doing practice problems on the board to review content, then he'll ask if anyone has any questions. No one says anything because nothing about what he just did on the board made any sense, and no one even knows where to begin to ask questions about what just happened. But lowkey that's on us because if we had just review the previous three days lecture content then it would probably all make sense, but no one does that.
great prof overall tho
This is the first time I’m writing a Bruinwalk review, because Corsello’s class was so amazing! Although organic chemistry requires a lot of time and effort to understand, he was always helpful, and he made the process very enjoyable!
1. Lecture and OH:
I loved his lectures! He explained all the concepts clearly in class, and he gave us many examples that were similar to the exam problems. I HIGHLY recommend going to office hours, especially when you are confused about something or are just curious about certain topics we learned in class -- they were extremely helpful for me. When I took the class, he offered 4 hours of OH per week :) He’s always patient and encouraging, so don’t be afraid to ask questions! I also recommend going to the review sessions before exams.
He finished teaching new material early so we had the entire last week for review!
The most important practice problems are his problem sets — they’re VERY similar to the exams, except that the midterms are shorter (and probably slightly easier).
He gave us plenty of time (about 2 weeks) to complete each problem set, and he posted the answer key right after the problem sets were due.
2.5 Side note:
We were usually not done learning all the materials covered in the PS at the time he posted it, so given that the PS resembled his exams the most, I personally found it more helpful to “save them” until I was able to do all of it in one sitting — I treated them as practice exams. However, there are also advantages to doing them gradually as we learn.
We had 2 points of EC (bonus problem) for each exam (including the final).
The midterms were both 50 minutes long.
I think if you study the problem sets and make sure that you understand everything, you wouldn’t be short on time.
He also posted the answers for all versions of the exams.
3.5 Side note:
If you want more practice, other versions of the exams are also great resources :)
The TA discussion worksheets were good resources too — the TAs went over the problems during discussion. They also posted all their WS, discussion slides, and answer keys on BruinLearn for review.
Doing lots of practice problems definitely helps.
Master Organic Chemistry has both in-depth explanations and practice problems. The ones corresponding to chapters 4 (acid/base) and 9 (substitution/elimination) were particularly helpful for me.
He also assigned book problems for extra practice.
I HIGHLY recommend buying a model kit — it can be really useful for the cycloalkane and stereoisomerism/chirality chapters, and we were allowed to bring pre-built models to the exams.
I also recommend reading the textbook, especially for the mechanisms.
I loved his class! If you spend the time studying, it’ll feel very rewarding :)
I was very worried going into Chem 30A that it would be extremely difficult due to the O-Chem's daunting reputation but Corsello made the class both enjoyable and understandable. He has a very fair grading scale and his exams are VERY similar to the problem sets he posts (these problems sets are actually more challenging than his exams in my opinion so they are a good resource to review.) Not only that, the discussion sections managed by the TAs were extremely useful as they would actually review the material and teach us problem solving strategies through various examples. I would say this has been, by far, my favorite chem class I have taken at UCLA.
I loved professor Corsello! Organic chemistry is daunting, notorious for being THE weeder class, and the 30 series is commonly known to be much more rigorous than the 14 series for organic chemistry. I was scared at first, but after taking this class with Corsello, I can confidently say he made Ochem manageable, less daunting, and even fun. This quarter, this was his class structure:
Grade scheme: Straight scale (94-99% A, 90-94% A-, 86-90% B+, etc.) although he said if class averages were low enough he would curve, but that never happened this quarter. He also told us explicitly that if your final grade is close to the next letter grade, they will round up,
Lecture: I feel like there was always so much value from coming to Corsello's lectures. He always said there was so much material to cover in only 10 weeks, and he was right, as every lecture was something new. Because of so much content though, one thing I found is he will literally zoom past these lecture slides to try and get through them on time, and without doing any practice problems in between slides to see how these concepts apply to questions, you will be lost. That's why I highly recommend reading/skimming the chapter of the textbook being covered before the lecture. The Brown textbook was great IMO, and had great practice examples. Doing that saved me a lot of confusion and allowed me to come to lecture able to just absorb his lecture instead of frantically writing notes and feeling lost.
Discussion: While discussion is not mandatory, he gives 1 point of extra credit for every discussion you go to. Honestly, with how good the discussion sections were, this was just even more of a reason to go. His entire TA team was amazing, and their worksheets were literally amazing practice and filled with problems to just drill out the concepts. On top of that, every TA's worksheet was posted in the Canvas files so you can really do everyone's worksheet if you wanted to.
Problem sets: There are 5 problem sets, all due every other week, but since it was his first quarter here he didn't really stick to that schedule and we ended up only having 4 problem sets throughout the 10 weeks, with a final study guide being our 5th problem set. They are worth 15 points each, totaling to 75 points, and graded on completion! The problem sets were amazing, and when he said they are representative of his exams, they truly are. However in my experience, the problem sets were not enough practice, and I found myself searching for outside resources and asking friends in 14C for their extra problem sets (I highly recommend MN State's Ochem practice material, since they come with solutions and videos going over them).
BACON: BACON is basically just a website that profs in the 30 series use to show you how concepts you learn are used in the real world (how ochem shows up in biological systems, drugs, pharmaceuticals, etc.) BACON has like a 10-15 min long module of information with little quiz questions in between, but the only thing that matters is the quiz at the end. These are graded on accuracy, with one being dropped, and in total you can get 25 points for BACON. Your BACON grade is just computed by finding your overall percentage and multiplying by 25. One thing about BACON is that the quizzes do ask questions about really specific things in the module and you don't get to look back at the slides, so what I just did was take pictures of every slide to make sure I get 100% on these quizzes lol.
Exams: We had 2 midterms worth 50 points each, so our midterm category was 100 points, and a final exam worth 100 points. Corsello's exams are EXTREMELY fair, and you can expect him to test you on ANYTHING he covered in his slides. Surprisingly, Corsello did not split up the class into different lecture halls, so the hall was PACKED on exam day. One thing I will say is that his exams tend to be on the longer side, and I was caught off guard by the first midterm's length as I barely had enough time to complete it within the 50 minutes. The first midterm covered basics like naming, stereochemistry, and acids and bases, so there was a LOT of content to review. The second midterm was a lot better in terms of timing, and since it covered reactions, I would say it's more memorization heavy but less content to cover. Finally, the final was pretty hefty and an even split of every chapter during the course, but still fair and a lot of people finished an hour early. Corsello was also pretty relaxed about makeups, especially since we had so many athletes travelling this quarter and COVID running rampant, and we had a makeup option for both midterms (however, no makeup for the final and if you unfortunately catch COVID beforehand, he will make you take an incomplete and take the final in a future quarter). Finally, he offered a bonus question on every exam worth 1 EC point!
Content: 30A mainly covers 2 sections, structure and reactions. One of the hardest parts about this class is the content leading up to the first midterm. I believe the thing that makes Ochem hard is actually starting to learn Ochem, because there is so much content to cover in 4 weeks, and learning something so foreign like naming molecules, chairs, stereochemistry etc. so fast can really catch you off guard so I would say PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! After you get over that curve, you get into reactions and how to make molecules. Still pretty hard stuff since there are a lot of reactions to cover, learn and memorize, but again all it takes is practice and exposure. The content is doable, it's fun, and Corsello tries to make it as painless as possible.
Overall, I loved Professor Corsello! This class is very doable, workload isn't too heavy, and many opportunities for you to succeed. Definitely take 30A with Corsello if you have the chance!