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Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
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Professor Nelson is a wonderful teacher. She is very organized and 100% committed to her students and their learning experience. She is the most concerned and caring professor I have had at UCLA thus far. She lectures very clearly (sometimes she talks really fast) and her lectures give you everything you need to know for the tests. She really makes the material interesting, and her passion makes the class exciting. With that said, she does make you work for your grade. You should be prepared to study almost every day and rewatch almost every lecture on bruincast. I never went to office hours and I still got an A in the class, so it definitely won't make or break your grade like other people are saying.
First off, I got an A in the class, so I am not at all bitter about the grade I got in her class. With that said, she is the worst teacher I have had at UCLA. Everyone, including Nelson herself, says her tests are tough, and yes, they are, because she doesn't explain the concepts well enough in class. You have to read the book, which would be fine, if her lectures were not a complete waste of time. They are completely unorganized, and she covers simple concepts that most UCLA students have already learned rather than covering the more challenging material that she actually tests. One student told me that she discusses this material during her office hours, but is that really fair to all the students who come to class and expect to learn there. Seriously, one day she spent ten minutes telling us that nitrogen was in histidine when a diagram of histidine was on the board. The TA's do all the teaching for the class, mostly during the two hour review sessions held before each midterm. She states that her class is application of concepts learned in lecture and expanding on these simple concepts. Why can't she just teach the more complicated concepts instead of expecting students to make such a big jump with the limited basic matter that she teaches us? If you take this class, good luck. I was more stressed out for this class than for any other class I took at UCLA. I sincerely hope she gets fired. If you are going to take the class, don't worry because the curve will save your ass. It definitely saved mine :)
I am having a really hard time understanding most of these reviews. People are making her out to be some sort of evil professor who revels in watching her students suffer.
Nothing could not be further from the truth. What I remember striking me most vividly is that she always had a smile when talking about the class. That shows a genuine passion for biochemistry on her part that was easy to pick up on as students. In office hours, or after lecture, she was always super nice, and went out of her way to explain a concept no matter how basic it was.
And to those who say her tests are hard: she gave you everything you needed to do well. Classes take work, you can't expect to half ass an upper division class like the earlier chem series... The class itself is hard because of the sheer amount of material covered, but Nelson makes it not only more manageable, but also gives you the drive to look through the material and understand exactly what is going on.
Hands down, the best, and most interesting class I have taken so far at UCLA. Hands down, the best professor I have had so far at UCLA.
Honestly she is not as bad as people make her out to be. She is genuinely concerned about the student's well-being in the class. She has three office hours and coffee hours and you can approach her after class as well. First two midterms are do-able. Hint* If you read the book it helps so much. As the person below said, don't slack off after 2nd midterm. Sure there's like 4 weeks from 2nd midterm to final, there is so much information. Just don't fall behind. It's not too bad.
Well, this was a fun ride. I guess I can say I'm glad to be done with the class. But how will future students prepare for Nelson (if she does stick around)?
Here's probably the best advice: DO NOT SLACK OFF AFTER THE SECOND MIDTERM.
The first two thirds of the class are rather manageable, but eventually you have to memorize glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and the electron transport chain. While not too difficult to memorize on their own, it's the other stuff that comes with them that really gets to you.
I don't know what my grade is yet, but based purely on experience, do not fall behind after the second midterm. Keep up and really pay attention to every word she says in those final jam-packed lectures.
It's Spring 2011, and what has Nelson become?
Still pretty much the same.
Her lectures are pretty hard to go through because she's slow and not very good at explaining the stuff.
She smacks her lips every time she pauses in her lecture.
And her exams will fly over your head like nothing else.
To be honest, the very first midterm was better than I expected. The average was decent, and at least the problems made sense. The second midterm had a lower average, but the problems were still relatively manageable.
Then came the final.
Yes, the final from which I still have a headache two hours later.
Think of this class as an exponential curve. After the second midterm, you will be bombarded with perhaps the most infamous part of 153A...the cycles. And you better know them through and through. Although even if you do, it won't help that much on the final.
The final is shaped into two parts: a new material part and a cumulative part. Each part is worth the same, but I can say the cumulative portion is a lot more difficult. She likes to give the cumulative sections themes. In Spring 10, it was baby milk. In Winter 10, it was beer. In Spring 11, it was some cycle that was kind of like the cycles you learn in the class but not really. Anyway, it'll be pretty hard to clear your head for it unless you know the stuff extremely well, and that won't happen.
So good luck.
Actually this class wasn't as bad as I expected because I expected to get owned so hard in the face. But that didn't happen because if you notice, she curves the average to around a B. That is a very nice curve. I wish all my hard classes had that nice of a curve but the world is not perfect like that.
Her lectures don't really make much sense. I learned most of the stuff from quizes, TA, book problems, and the REVIEW POWERPOINTS SHE SENDS OUT MEMORIZE EVERYTHING ON THESE. Honestly, it was bad, but not THAT bad.
She should have a 3 or 4 for difficulty, not a 1.something.
Objectively, Nelson really isn't as awful as people make her out to be. During the time I took the course, I was incredibly stressed and anxious about her exams... and I probably cursed her name every single day I woke up. You have to read everything she assigns (at least once) and make sure you know and understand what she says in lecture like your life depended on it. There is a lot of memorizing, but not as much as your upper division core PhySci classes (I am a PhySci major). Essentially, you need to be very proactive. If you can, read the assigned pages before lecture, that way lecture will make more sense to you. Also, talk to her after class or during office hours, this will greatly help your grade in the class. In the end, I learned so much and was glad I took this class because it really helped me a lot for my MCATs. I ended up with a solid A, it's not impossible.
Nelson isn't really THAT bad. Most people are just complaining because this is the first upper division course they have to take since it is required for so many other courses. YES, there is a TON of memorization, but not any more than some of the other upper division MIMG or MCDB course that you'll have to take. YES, it gets very specific (like all other upper division courses) and the things you memorize may seem foolish or not worth while. The way she seems to structure her course is to use very specific examples to illustrate very general principals, and she expects you to know everything about the specific example and doesn't put much weight on whether you understand the principal in general.
If you didn't do well in 14A, 14C, or 14D, review that material. A lot of the course is structure/reactions and acid/base chemistry. Don't bother memorizing every molecule in a 40 step reaction pathway, simply remember what reacts with what and you'll have a MUCH easier time. Do all the work you're told to do even if it seems trivial. Oh, and the fat curve or having a great TA helps. Also, the quizzes are free points and will boost your grade a lot if you don't mess them up.