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TLDR: The class is a ton of work, but if you're planning on a career or major in science, it's completely worth it. You'll learn general chemistry principles like in 20B, albeit with a bit deeper understanding, and parallel to that you'll become literate at reading current scientific research. Also, if you want to do research as an undergrad, Paul is your guy and WILL hook you up with a position.
Compared to Chem 20B, this class is about 3-4 times as much work. In addition to the weekly homework assignment (problems from the textbook), Paul assigns weekly "creative problems," where we create and solve problems related to the current course material, and we have 5-6 literature assignments, which have us write reports on research articles published within the past year. In addition to a final exam you'll be assigned a lengthy final project, where you detail some current research area with a 5-10 page paper, presentation, and poster. And lastly, Paul assigns an "auxiliary assignment" each quarter, which are about the same amount of work as a syllabus assignment (but you can do multiple for extra credit). Sometimes it could be pretty nauseating doing the sheer amount of work that is assigned, but it is possible to do it if you don't procrastinate.
The class teaches the general chemistry principles that 20B does. Stuff like molecular bonding, electrochemistry, nuclear chemistry etc. But Paul puts special emphasis on adding in research-oriented content in his lectures. By that I mean he often teaches you about the experimental setups necessary to discover all the principles we learn about. This includes all the different types of mass spectrometry available, the different types of ways to "fingerprint" an atom/molecule, and flow cytometry. He cares that you learn more about the guiding principles and how to derive specific points of knowledge rather than memorize them (Like being able to tell him how to find an atomic radius rather than memorizing it for a couple atoms).
One con of the class is just how much background knowledge Paul assumes everyone has. Sure there's the tryhards who did research in high school, but fo someone coming out of AP Chem or Chem20A/AH, the first couple weeks it is VERY tough to follow along with Paul as he dives into anecdotes about his colleagues' research.
All in all, the class is extremely daunting if you don't have a very solid foundation in chemistry or don't plan on majoring in biology/biochem. However, it is definitely possible to adjust to Paul's pacing, and after a week or two you'll get a much better grasp at what the hell he's talking about. By the end (with enough effort), you can consider yourself relatively scientifically literate. If that's a goal of yours, this class is definitely worth the time, but I would recommend making sure all your other classes are easy.
MK. This is gonna be a long one.
This class is kinda wild and I'm still not sure if I should've taken it. I feel like it should probably be an 8 unit class or called Chem 20BHW or something because I literally wrote more in this class than in any other humanities class that I've taken here so far.
There are tons of pros of taking this class. First and foremost, if you want to get into a lab and are not really sure how- Paul will get you into one probably guaranteed. When you're sending out inquiries you can cc him and he'll vouch for your ability which can help. However, it's not completely necessary since I didn't cc him and still got into one of my top choice labs, so I'm kinda wondering if the rest of the class was worth it. Again though, if you're worried about it he will definitely help you be more knowledgeable about the research all the faculty does and will help you narrow down, so it's worth it in that regard.
You learn a lot but it's more intuition and scientific methods rather than actual chemistry as I studied very little and relied heavily on my AP Chem knowledge to do well in the class. The tests weren't too bad and are actually not too big of a part of the grade. When I looked up his syllabus I thought this would be great as I choke pretty frequently on tests and am really good at doing psets etc., but legit be warned. If you're taking a large amount of units like I did + lab this class will actually drown you.
Let's start with the cons. The thing I probably detested the most about this class is that the homework (book problems) had very little to do with the course overall. You did them after reading the chapter and probably never saw them again. There were so many small things and complicated problems that I had to churn out but then never saw discussed in the class or test so it kind of encouraged not actually learning those skills. Aside from the book problems, every 1.5 weeks you'll have a "literature assignment" that requires you to read a paper and then summarize it. This takes SO long. Please do not underestimate trying to basically read a foreign language for your first assignments bc it's so hard. Legit try to find shorter articles and it will help you even if it's less interesting. This will however definitely help you start reading papers which is a necessary skill but it takes a huge amount of time. This reading papers slowly builds into your poster project and paper which requires even more papers to be read and takes one of your saturdays later in the quarter to go and present in front of your peers. I pulled multiple all-nighters for this as I also had other classes that I had to be focusing on which really sucked. It was a delightful experience overall but so much work. Finally, the pacing is awful because after this poster presentation which had a homework assignment literally due a few days after as well as a midterm. That was quite fun and I bombed the second one but still ended up getting an A. I think you prob shouldn't worry about your grade as much as your health in this class :(
Overall, just know when he says it's 3x the work it really is. You'll learn a lot about chemistry but not with too much of a focus on 20B material and rather it's real-world applications. Stay safe :)
Paul is definitely a GREAT professor for Chem 20BH!
First of all, I believe all of you who are viewing this page must have noticed the difference between Paul's rating for Chem 20B and Chem 20BH. This arises from the different nature of these two: If you just want to learn some chemistry and pass 20B(H) as easily as possible, stay away from Paul's class; if you want to really learn SCIENCE, including chemistry and involving all aspects of science (research skills, analytic skills, etc.), you can hardly find a better professor than Paul.
Second, I acknowledge that the workload is heavy, but it is well manageable. In the quarter I took this Paul's class (winter quarter of my first year ---- as most of you who will take this course will most probably take at this time of the year), I took 5 courses including 2 maths and a cluster and I survived. Other comments have talked about what to expect, and they are all precise. However, if you are very academic, you will definitely handle all this.
Last but not least, Paul is pretty chill. Just think about how many 60-year-old professor would like their students to call them by their first name instead of Prof. X or Dr. X. His class is extremely interesting, where Paul would occasionally tell jokes and personal experience. And again, if you are a very science guy and want to get into a lab, Paul is extremely helpful. He knows who to turn to regarding every aspect of chemistry or materials science if he can't answer himself.
The only minor problem with this course is that the exams are very comprehensive. As other comments have said, many of the materials are complementary, which results in a heavy workload. It will be great if you command them all, but since most of us can't, you should be wise at telling the most important points from others (as I did). Other than that, Paul's course is very amazing.
Paul is a pretty awesome professor for this class specifically, which he cares a lot about. He's also really active in helping students to get research positions. He's really enthusiastic about chemistry and he encourages his students to attend different seminars and other events frequently. You get extra credit on exams for describing research labs you've looked into and seminars you've watched. There's a lot of work (final research paper, like 3 different homework assignments due each week, doing a video presentation, etc) but overall I would totally recommend the class if you're willing to put in the work (and if the regular 20B professors that quarter are bad). Paul's tests are fair and he accepts different answers if your argument makes sense (ie: what type of spectroscopy would you use to find x thing about this molecule).
***I took this class in an online format during the COVID-19 pandemic. TL;DR at end.
This class is a lot of work, but ultimately, it's an experience that's worth it. If you're deciding between this class and CHEM 20B, I believe you will have a better time in this class, as long as you're willing to put in a bit of extra work. It will save a lot of stress and worrying about poorly written exams or such.
The homework in this class consisted of weekly problem sets, assigned from the textbook (which you can find online for free). These would usually be somewhat related to the lectures in class, but in general, seemed supplementary rather than complementary. Another weekly assignment was to design your own problem about a topic from the week, which is pretty simple. There's also the "Literature Assignments" — you choose a research paper on a given topic, and write a short summary. It's pretty time consuming, but it's a useful skill, and the grading on all three types of assignments is very forgiving. Your lowest score for each is also dropped. There's a large project in this class, where you choose some topic related to the class and heavily research it and make a poster and presentation. It is a significant amount of work, but it's also not difficult to do, and you get to choose your topic, so it's interesting.
Lectures and discussions weren't exceptional, but they're certainly useful. Paul is a great guy, very nice during lectures and office hours. He's pretty easy to listen to and understand, and never makes it hard to ask questions. The class is also much smaller than other similar courses, so if you're somewhat active in participation, he'll know you personally. Participation was technically part of the grading, but I think that just meant "show up to classes and talk at least once throughout the quarter," so free points, really.
The midterms were very fair, and also were 50/50 individual/group performance. After the individual section, you were allowed to consult with the whole class, and basically get a free 100 for the group section. Each midterm had a pretty significant amount of extra credit too. The final exam is an oral exam you have to schedule with Paul individually, but the questions are basically the same, he just asks you them in a call. That may sound bad, but you can just ask him for hints if needed, and he's super generous on the grading. If anything, the final is one of the easiest parts of the class. It was super nice to not be stressed about the final when I heard CHEM 20B students freaking out about theirs.
Finally, there's tons of extra credit opportunities. There's an extra auxiliary lecture you can attend and do an assignment on for I think 2% of your grade, and the midterm extra credits were pretty significant too. I think most people reading this are just considering this or CHEM 20B, so here's the comparison: CHEM 20BH is more work and requires more self-interest/initiative, but is much less stressful and more inclusive since the class is smaller.
Point distribution (there is no curve on exams or the whole class):
Midterm 1 - 10%
Midterm 2 - 10%
Final - 20%
Project (5% poster, 5% presentation, 10% paper) - 20%
Homework (10% creative problems, 10% textbook problems) - 20%
Literature Assignments - 10%
Auxiliary Lecture (each after the first is extra credit) - 5%
Participation - 5%
Basically, only 30% of the class is individual exam performance (b/c of the group phases of the midterms). It's not too difficult to get an A since there's so many other assignments.
TL;DR: If you're confident in chemistry (taken AP chemistry or a similar level class) or are willing to spend some time reading the textbook each week, just take this class. It's a much better experience than CHEM 20B, plus you can save it for second enrollment since it doesn't fill. If you're still not convinced, go read the 20B reviews for Barr, who was the option for Winter 2021. Or even 20B for Weiss, the same professor.
Weiss is definitely the best professor I've had at UCLA. Brilliant guy and very helpful. The only office hours I've ever attended were his and it was more for discussion and stories than help in the class. He is very well connected and willing to help you with anything inside or outside of his class. He hooks everyone up with lab positions and will talk to other professors about you to get you a position. I still see him around and say hello and talk a bit. What a guy.
Warning: this class is A LOT of work. Weekly homework, literature assignments, and readings. Add that onto a final project, poster, and essay. Oh and midterms and finals, of course.
However, the class itself isn't that bad, and I don't regret taking it. Paul really does want all of his students to do well, and he'll help you get into a research group if you're set on one already. The TA's are also pretty cool, although their discussion worksheets do not help at all with the midterms and finals. If you enjoy learning chemistry for the sake of chemistry (like me), you'll like the class.
The bottom line is, if you're willing to put in the work and effort, you'll do fine in the class. It's whether or not you're willing to do all that work (as in, I took 4 classes that quarter and 20BH was half of my homework/studying time)
Professor Weiss is the smartest man I've ever met! He made this class very interesting and helpful for future purposes.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: This class is extremely challenging. If you do not have the time to fully invest daily hours of work for this class, do not take it. This class' workload is 3 times more than the regular Chem 20B class. There are creative problems to do each week, literature assignments, and also homework from the book. On top of that, there is a final project (poster + paper) that must be completed and is worth 15% of your grade. The only way to achieve your best is to try very hard on the homework (worth 30% of the grade), and to try and score above average on the tests.
Also, stay in contact with the TA's because at times their information is very confusing and the guidelines are difficult to understand. My experience with the TA's was rather disappointing because of their harsh grading and lack of communication, so please make sure that you precisely understand want they want. You can always ask Paul for help if you feel lost.
Paul was a wonderful and approachable professor. The class itself was tedious (so much homework! There's weekly homework problems, a poster presentation and paper, creative questions, and literature assignments), but the exams were reasonable as long as you study. Much of the class (besides a few concepts) was a review of AP Chemistry, so the concepts weren't too difficult, but Paul definitely makes interesting test questions that requires you to apply these concepts to new scenarios.