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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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I get why people who like physics are giving him good ratings because Professor Vassiliev is very nice and wants us to understand maths and much more than what is necessary for this course.
And I would agree if it wasn't for what he did at the end of the quarter... Vassiliev saw that our median grade was 101.75/100 for our 3rd exam and guess what, my man decided to increase the maximum score to 145 so that our median for this exam is 70% (so that it is equal to the median of the first 2 exams)
No matter how well we perform, he just has to curve us to get a grade as bad as the grade we got in the past. I don't think this is reasonable at all.
To be honest. I taught myself this whole class with the university physics textbook. I also survived with the help of the physics department office hours.
Also, shout out to Paokuan chin for being the best physics 1b ta.
VVV is a really nice guy but often his lectures are not helpful because they have a ton of writing on them and are overwhelming. Go to lecture if you want, but I often felt mentally dead after each of his lectures. It does help to read the textbook before you go to lecture. He likes to go into the microscopic details in this class, and his lectures often focus on that. dont go to his office hours go to the ta. he won't really answer your question but rather explain the answer in a more difficult way or not understand it and give an answer you are not looking for.
Start the hw early. it. is . long. VVV assigns a ton of problems with multiple parts for homework.
prepare to get annihilated by his tests. they are hard... he has a nice curve on the grade distribution that is predetermined but he can (and did) downcurve tests if the entire class does too well. On tests he will often provide extra credit problems so that you can get more points, but the tests are long there are often 5 or 6 questions with multiple parts.
VVV was not fun. I watched all of his lectures but his understanding of physics is so deep that it honestly felt like he transcended reality and entered a world where all of the differential equations in physics were connected and beautiful. He's obsessed with showing derivations, but this is still an intro class and we don't have enough of a surface level understanding of the concept to even start to understand the derivations behind them.
The built in curve was nice, but then his idea to down curve the final after releasing the scores and getting all the students' hopes up was kinda messed up. It didn't affect me, but I feel bad for all my classmates who got destroyed by the 45 extra credit points being taken away.
I was spending at least two dedicated days a week just to finish the homework, because the homework was really difficult for me personally, but there was a lot of extra credit that really boosted my grade so I can't complain.
Lectures: Vladmir is one of the physics professors that loves going through derivations, math, and trying to bring extraneous topics into the class. This can be good if you plan on getting a deep understanding of physics, but for a lot of people who do not have a strong background or intend on taking much more physics, it can be very confusing. I started the quarter rereading slides and derivations and then I realized I really didn't need to and just started accepting things as true.
He was always trying to get students to ask questions, but lowkey I felt like most people were kinda too lost to ask most days. My brain started turning off after the first hour. He would sometimes go over similar questions to those on tests in lectures though, so they are still worth going to.
HW: Standard Pearson Mastering Physics problems. He usually has a decent amount of extra credit problems, making it pretty easy to get 120-140% on hw assignments.
Tests: Tend to be very long and not intended to be finished in the time allotted. They tend to be decently difficult and apply knowledge in a way that isn't very similar to the hw. On the flip side, there was a ludicrous amount of extra credit. There were always a few people that got >100% on tests and on the final it was technically possible to get 200% if I remember correctly. Tests averaged around 70-something%, which was a B+ for his grading scale.
Grading: Generous grading scheme, with 100-90 being an A, 90-80 A-, 80-70 B+, 70-60 B, etc.
Other notes: Moved final to last day of class which was annoying, but it seems like a lot of professors are doing something similar for COVID. If you haven't taken physics before, aim for getting as much partial credit as possible rather than trying to get 100% on every question you attempt.
Overall: This was the first class that scared me at UCLA, but would take again.
I know a lot of people are disgruntled by this class and his grading plans, but I'd like to offer a contrasting point of view. TLDR: Even though the lectures are confusing and mathematically rigorous, he doesn't expect advanced knowledge in tests and makes questions of a reasonable difficulty.
VVV loves Physics. He clearly has a passion that he wants to share with the class and does so by explaining the derivations behind various formulae we use. If you're a math or physics major, you'll enjoy learning about the theory and will be well prepared for a few advanced concepts. However, if this is your first look at these concepts and you don't enjoy differential equations, it will not be a fun quarter. Most first / second years don't have the background to appreciate the depth of the theory he goes into, which he is aware of. He keeps mentioning that some slides are geared towards advanced students, the topics of which only appear in extra credit questions.
The homework was reasonable. It took a lot longer than I expected (usually 7+ hours a week), but he gives a lot of extra credit on homework (my final homework score was 130%). The questions are based on the textbook mostly, with the EC questions usually requiring the concepts he taught in class. Even though EC is optional, I URGE YOU to do as much as you can to make up for bad scores elsewhere.
On the other hand, the exams were hard. The first two midterms were definitely challenging and beyond the homework questions we had previously covered. The final was slightly easier, but he curved it downwards because of student performance. I think that if he provided sample exam questions it would go a long way towards helping the class.
Lastly, his curve was really generous, which makes up for the hard quarter. 100% was A+, 90 was A, 80 was A- and so on. He curved the final to slightly more than a B+ average, which isn't unreasonable for a lower div physics course. All in all, be prepared to put in the work and spend hours struggling to understand, but getting a B+ or above is a reasonable goal. If you are mathematically inclined or good at 32A/B content, an A is definitely attainable!
***I'm updating my review because so many people seem to have slammed Vassiliev's class and ruined his rating. I do recommend this class with him even if you don't think you'll understand everything because he does explain the basic topics very clearly and writes very fair exams.***
Before everyone comes and writes Dr Vassiliev a bad review for making the class very difficult (especially compared to the other 1B professor this quarter), I'm just going to say that if you have a strong understand of the material in math 32A and 32B and you pay attention in lecture, you're going to learn a lot about physics and have a great appreciation of it. Even though I'm not a physics major, professor Vassiliev made me very interested in the course material and goes above in beyond in his efforts to motivate and explain concepts in physics. I also found the professor very clear at explaining topics.
That being said, if you are less mathematically inclined or are taking 32B this quarter, I will warn you that lectures can get a little mathematically intense. The two midterms we've had so far haven't been too difficult and haven't included any math that was too complicated.
I guess the main complain people might have with this class is how densely packed with information the lectures are and the fact that the professor expects math 32B as a pre-req when it is only a co-req for this class.
The professor gives a lot of extra credit and homework and midterms with almost 50% of the marks on the midterms coming from extra credit. The grading scheme is very generous with 100%+ being an A+, 90-100% being an A, 80-90% being an A-, 70-80% being a B+, 60 to 70% being a B and so on.
TLDR: take this class if you really love physics and want a deeper appreciation of the subject matter (though even if you don't particularly care about rigor, the exams aren't that difficult and the grading scheme is quite generous).
I am writing this review for Physics 1A. This website sucks.
Take another professor or take this class over the summer. VVV will not help you at all. His lectures are horrible and flush you out with information that is either 1) straight out of the textbook or 2) derivations that he doesn't explain. The best way I can describe this professor is that he is basically a narrator. He only goes over what's on the slides or talks in gibberish. It is impossible to full comprehend what he is talking about without uncertainty. He never explains where things come from or helps connect the dots which is important because Physics is filled to the brim with word problems. This is supposed to be an easy class as it is the first physics class; the concepts aren't too difficult to understand and the formulas aren't very complicated but for some reason this guy wants to overcomplicate things. The answers to the homework problems are all online. Otherwise, you can struggle. Read the textbook to get a basic understanding but the problems are complicated & you get a 25% deduction when your answer is wrong for any problem. This prof. offers a generous amount of extra credit but considering it's asking things more difficult than the exam questions themselves good luck even getting a single extra point. Also, his lectures aren't recorded, but he posts the slides so copying down that works too I guess.
Positives: VVV has a soul and is very passionate about Physics. He does not belong as a teacher, but he is cool and quite obviously pretty intelligent. He laughs every five seconds when anything weird, funny, unique, or easy pops up in a lecture. His grading scheme is very easy and generous, 30% is a C- and the grades increment by 10% i.e. C is 40%, C+ is 50%, etc. So, if you are a strong Physics student, or can teach yourself excellently, taking this class won't ruin you or anything, but you won't learn anything new from the professor. Exams aren't too complicated, just study the homework.
Also, hope you have a good TA. Mine just sat there and went through the problems and just narrated them. There are no resources to help you understand things outside of yourself so just cross your fingers and hope for the best. UCLA undergrad STEM is a joke.
All the reviews are true, and you can look at them and decide whether or not to take Physics 1B with VVV. And my suggestion is if you are not a Physics major, just want to use this class to fulfill your major's requirement, have no strong interest in Physics, and also have other important class to take during that quarter (like CS32), DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS WITH VVV!!!
Yes, the other reviews are true - this is not an easy class BUT it is worth all the struggle, especially if you are interested in physics. Vassiliev will spend most of his lectures going over problems that seem incredibly difficult at first, but actually end up being manageable and doable with our current physics knowledge. Personally I really appreciated that but I can understand how that's not everyone's deal. He certainly goes above and beyond the course material but a key thing to note is that none of the extra topics or concepts are on the tests. You can totally rely 100% on the textbook and homework and get an A in the class.
Additionally, there is quite a bit of extra credit on both the homework and exams, and you will likely get over 100% on many of your homework assignments. His exams can certainly throw you for a loop, but I would say they're still very fair. And if all you're looking for is to pass the class, a 30% in the class was curved to a C, so I doubt any of us failed, despite the apparent difficulty of his lectures.
Overall, definitely take Vassiliev's class if you have a strong interest and background in physics, and even if you don't have either of those, the class is designed so an A is certainly still very possible.