#UBC Course Overview (FIRST YEAR SCIENCE)

I talked about doing an overall summary of my first year courses and here goes it.

PSYCHOLOGY 101 – Biological and Cognitive Psychology

First and foremost, WHY did I take this course? Because Psychology intrigues me and I never got a chance to actually take any psych courses in high school…and I wanted a course that was ‘new’ to me…something I hadn’t seen in high school. I’m not going to lie, it WAS an interesting course, and my professor was pretty decent….and once again, not going to lie, it was my first course of the day, and sometimes I felt like I wanted to fall asleep. My class for the most part was quite ‘dead’ … I wouldn’t blame them, it was pretty early after all! And little did I know how many people were in my class until the day of the midterm! There were apparently close to 200 people registered in my psych class(190 – something)….and only about 100-130 would show up on a daily basis. I actually enjoyed the textbook ‘Themes and Variations’ – it was a bit dense, some chapters were just TOO LONG…and went deep down into extreme detail-age. Every weekend we had a quiz to do online…these quizzes were not done on vista, it was a separate website…which bothered me because I would almost ALWAYS forget to do them…or I’d remember an hour before the deadline…but only 5/7 quizzes counted for marks – so I was safe. The level of difficulty of the quizzes was relatively easy…they were multiple choice questions, with answers straight from the book….lots of skimming was done on those weekends..siighhh. Also, we only had one midterm, which was worth about 35% of our term mark…and we were told the date of the midterm on the first day of class…..probably should have  DONE something about that(other than acknowledging it and thinking I had ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD)…it would have resulted in a better midterm mark, for sure. There were quite a few theories that all seemed like the same thing sometimes, but really they were different. And I felt that memorization wasn’t all that you needed..you needed to memorize, understand, and apply. And to be quite honest, this class wasn’t of utmost importance to me, after all, I AM a Science student, and this was just for Arts credits. SOOOOO yeaah. And I have been told(by people that have taken both Psych 101 and 102) that Psych 102 is much more interesting than this course, it’s more about people and their behaviours, which is what I, personally am interested in. And it actually helps to have a background in Biology for this course, I found that one whole section was practically a chapter from BC Biology 12…the whole nervous system section.

ENGLISH 110 – Approaches to Literature

Boy, am I ever glad that I managed to survive through this course, and I even got a decent mark in it. I went into this course thinking, “Oh I love reading books, this will be my ‘chill’ course…when I’m sick of doing all the science-y stuff, I’ll just relax and read a book” …….my thoughts throughout the term: “@#$%@#$!!! GET ME OUT OF THIS CLASS!!!! I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO THAN READ BOOKS ABOUT GENDER ROLES IN SOCIETY!!! I’M A SCIENCE STUDENT!! @!%#^*#$@”  – haha, this class was not what I expected it to be. Now, don’t be turned off by the fact that I disliked this course, I know plenty of English 110 students that actually LIKED their class. My professor had a VERY monotonous voice….half the time I wanted to just SLEEP/skip this class…but I knew skipping this class would result in me being screwed…so I never skipped. She just talked and talked and talked in the same tone, and it got to the point where I would forget that she was still talking…it would just drown out in my head. And that resulted in not great note taking skills…I never knew WHAT part of what she was saying was important. And she expected us to read about 100-150 pages in like 2 days — THAT never happened. And the books that she picked out….SO BORING and it just had no ‘story’ to it…not exciting in the slightest. But I will say one thing, my TA was THE BEST TA EVER!! I loved English discussions on Fridays just because she made them worthwhile. And we had 3 in-class essays…I think it was three..maybe it was 2… I kinda forget. oops. And we had one final research paper worth 30% of our grade. All in all, I’m just glad that I never have to do that class AGAIN…and the fact that I came out alive.

MATH 100 – Differential Calculus with Applications to Physical Sciences and Engineering

“What math are you taking?”

“Math 100.”

“Oh that’s the easy math right?”

“No.”  —- I can’t even count on my two hands HOW MANY TIMES I was asked that question…just because ’100′ is a low number, people assume that it’s the ‘easy’ math… NOOO SIIIRR. It’s engineering math, the ‘most challenging’ first year math course. I…toughed it out with this one…thank you wonderful mathematically geniusified friends…and awesome prof! I was never really good at calculus…we just never clicked, not even in high school. Since I struggled with Calculus in high school, it was pretty much expected that I would struggle with it in university. Although, I definitely understood it better once I was taught it in university. So if you took Calculus 12, and were good at it, then you really wouldn’t have too much trouble with Math 100…you’d probably get a decent mark…and remember that the midterms for the most part WILL be harder than the final…unless you had a pretty ‘easy’ prof..in that case…your midterms would be easier, and your final mark would most likely get scaled DOWN, while the others’ marks would get scaled UP. Fortunately I was lucky to be scaled up! By the way, Math 100 gets scaled FOR SURE, every year, so your final mark is NOT your raw mark. I don’t think being scaled down is ‘fair’ for the individual person, but on a LARGER scale, it actually IS fair….if you’re in a class with a prof that gives out hard midterms, and manage a 40% …and then you look at another class where a student gets 80% because they had an easier midterm….and then when the common final exam comes…the student with the 40 gets in the 70s and then the student that got 80, gets in the 50s — clearly you can see that there’s something wrong with that. But yeah- all I can say is, practice, practice, practice... TONS AND TONS of math questions, you have access to old finals through the ubc math department website…and just use your resources.

BIOLOGY 112 – Unicellular Life

Ahh – cell biology, not something that I really LOVE…but hey, I did quite well on the midterms. Hehe. Just on the midterms. That final exam, I don’t even want to talk about it! All the exams in this course are multiple choice, which sometimes is a good thing, sometimes not. I feel like I completely fluked out on the second midterm, but that’s beside the point. So if you took Biology 12 (in BC), most of the things you learn in this course would be really familiar to you. Every weekend we had a self-assessment aka a quiz with about 6-10 questions….which were based on the pre-readings of the week. The pre-readings, which I ACTUALLY did…took forever sometimes….but I actually thought that the textbook that we used was quite good and really gave good background on the information. Also, at the beginning of the year, we had to buy a custom notes package, which was a really condensed/almost a summary, of the main topics covered in the textbook. I found it pretty useful, more like a ‘companion’ to the textbook…I wouldn’t JUST read the custom notes package instead of reading the textbook…the note package is NOT a substitute for the text, at all. And this class has clicker questions, which thankfully aren’t marked based on the correctness of your answers — as long as you click SOMETHING, you’re fine(it’s mainly so that they know you showed up). Sometimes the clicker questions were drop dead obvious, other times, they made you wonder whether you were in the wrong class.. The first midterm(10% of our grade) we had was only out of 13 questions, and it was actually a pretty fair exam…we had 25 minutes to do it, in class(it was a different midterm for each section)….and I think this was the first midterm I had ever written. The second midterm was 25 questions, a common exam for all sections, and worth 30% of our grade, a significantly large portion I would say…and we had an hour to do it. And the common final exam was worth 45% of the grade….I don’t even want to go into detail about the final, definitely felt like I got hit by a train for that exam..and that’s mutual with many people that wrote it. You needed a cumulative average of 50% between the midterms and the final in order to pass the course — which is pretty fair. And this course apparently doesn’t believe in ‘scaling’ – but they did take off four marks off of the total for the final, our final was originally out of 54 marks, but they brought it down to 50 — I guess that’s worth something.

CHEMISTRY 121 – Structural Chemistry, with Application to Chemistry of the Elements

Chemistry and I have an interesting relationship.. I thoroughly enjoy the course…but I believe that it could have been taught in a better way. My prof … let’s just say she ‘tried’ to teach, but it wasn’t effective. My prof pretty much put up slides on the powerpoint, which were pages straight out of the CHiRP (our workbook/textbook) – and then she would just talk talk talk. Towards the end of the term, she actually started to write out notes…now THIS was actually helpful! I was a lecture crasher (attended other profs lectures) … best one to go to would be Mark Maclachlan’s – a-MAY-zing prof…absolutely AMAZING! I even remember the very first lecture of his that I went to…and I had learned SOOOO much! I wish I had gone to his lectures back in September, I only started going at the end of October/beginning of November. And another good one was Dr. Wolf (I have never been to his lectures, but my friends all said he was really good). But Maclachlan, he is THE BEST OF THE BEST! Such an effective teacher. Going into first term, I was terrified at the thought of doing Chem labs —- boy was I in for a surprise, I thoroughly ENJOYED doing chem labs…you would NEVER have heard me say that in high school..I mean they were cool to WATCH..but I would never have wanted to actually DO them myself. I honestly surprised myself this term with that! The lab component of the course is worth 20% of your final grade, and 80% is the lecture component. The lecture component consists of midterms, in class quizzes, and the final. If you don’t PASS both of the components, then you don’t pass the course. If you pass the lab component, but fail the lecture component, you have to do the course again, except the labs won’t need to be repeated. You will definitely come across questions on the midterms that will totally and completely confuse you, to the point of throwing off all thinking abilities – not fun. :P BUT the final is pretty do-able…you should be able to easily pass it if you have a decent grip on the concepts.

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CHEMISTRY 123 – Physical & Organic Chemistry

Okay. Can I say that I absolutely LOVED this course? This course is split up into two parts, Physical and Organic Chem…and in most sections it is split up with two different profs for teaching each component. Dr. Addison for the Physical component…he made my passion for Chemistry, come back, especially after my experience with Chem 121 dulled that. He is AMAZING, he actually TEACHES you, and WANTS you to gain knowledge and understand what he’s saying, unlike some profs that show up to class to say what they need to say, and could care less about whether or not you actually UNDERSTAND the material. He is just hands down the best prof ever, I was immensely sad when the Physical portion of the course was done. He made the lectures super interesting, and kept you interested in them. He made you actually WANT to come to class and LEARN. Talking to him was very easy too, he’s extremely approachable and very casual. He had very frequent quizzes as well, these were super helpful in understanding the basic concepts, plus they had fair questions, so if you studied, you would be able to get close to perfect/perfect on them. For the Organic component, we had a new prof, Professor Katherine Ryan, I was really skeptical about having a “new” prof for Chem, especially after my experience with a new prof in Chem 121. But it was good, you could tell she was still learning effective teaching techniques, but she genuinely tried to help her students succeed, and it was good. I’m not strong at O-Chem, but doing the problem sets and everything really helped A LOT. Key to do well in Chem 123 – DO THOSE PROBLEM SETS! THEY ARE LIFESAVERS! There was only one midterm, and that was solely on the Physical Chem component, and the class average was 78% — in other words, that is VERY high, so the majority of students did exceptionally well on it. The final on the other hand was broken up into Organic and Physical, with more emphasis on the Organic part…and in my opinion there were some tricky questions on the final, but overall, it was good. 🙂 

PHYSICS 101 – Energy & Waves

This course is actually a pretty basic course when you think about it. The concepts really aren’t that complex. If you try to do well, you will do well. Labs and tutorials alternate every other week. Labs – 3 hours, Tutorial -2 hours, and yes, tutorials ARE mandatory. You usually work on questions that the TAs give you, with another person/group of people/you can work on them individually if you want to. Personally, I don’t like Physics labs, never really did(even in high school)…sooo I didn’t really “enjoy” them;in saying that, I still did come out with a pretty decent mark. There was one midterm for this course, worth 15%(I think) I believe the midterm average was around 55%……that’s kind of low..I found it pretty hard to be honest. But they told us that our midterm mark would get ignored if we did better on the final exam. The content, you learn so much about waves , probably more than you’ve ever wanted to learn. The one complaint I have is about the questions in the textbook, the ones at the end of each chapter, some of those were just plain HARD, but the worked out example questions in each chapter were very helpful. I can’t really compare the level of difficulty of this course with any other first year level Physics courses (100 or 102) since I haven’t taken either of those. From what I have heard though, Physics 100 is very basic, and easy to get a good mark in. Physics 102 on the other hand, people have said it’s quite difficult of a course, more so than 101 — but like I said, I can’t confirm any of those claims, sorry.

MATH 101 – Integral Calculus with Applications to Physical Sciences and Engineering

Yes, Engineering math, once again. I’m not even exaggerating, but I think there were literally 12 girls in the class of 100 students. I can’t say I did so hot in this course. Calculus is something I have struggled with since high school, and I know you’re supposed to try really hard when you struggle with something, and NOT “hate” it…but really, I DID try, but I still have a distaste for math in general. So this is just a course on well, integration, woot woot. If you’re strong in math, you SHOULDN’T have too much of a problem with it.There were two midterms, I think it was the second one that didn’t really have “superb” results. Either way, in the end, your mark is almost guaranteed to get scaled, but overall, still about 17% of the enrolled class fails. My prof was really good, he was a new prof(from my experience, new math profs are actually quite good), really cared about his students and wanted them to do well. Math 101 is a standardized course throughout, meaning that every section basically does the same thing. Every week we had a Webwork assignment. Webwork is an online homework assignment. Sometimes this was just a complete pain, because I(along with half the people in the course) left it until the weekend to do it, and it was due on Sunday at 6 p.m. The questions are similar to what you get on quizzes/exams. We also had weekly quizzes, which were based on the concepts from the weekend Webwork assignment.


BIOLOGY 121- Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology

I liked this course a lot better than Biology 112, but I did better in Biology 112. This is a very prof dependent course, that’s what annoyed me most. The questions on exams are completely open ended, so you basically have to write what the prof wants you to write. You may end up giving a huge explanation about something, and not get full marks for it because your prof is super picky and you didn’t write EXACTLY what he/she wanted. The prof you get, it’s the luck of the draw. My prof was a GREAT lecturer, and he did a pretty good job of keeping you engaged in what he was saying. There were two midterms, a small group assignment, and a final exam. The content of the course is really intriguing, or I found it to be anyway, plus it’s relevant information. This course USED to be a GPA booster type of course, but I really don’t think it is anymore. One of the midterm averages was in the 50s, and the other was in the mid 60s. You just have to think like the prof, and then you’ll do well. 😛

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Other First Year Courses(ones I took after first year)

BIOLOGY 140 – Laboratory Investigations in Life Science

So I’m going to be that crazy girl that actually didn’t “mind” this course, I kind of liked it to be honest. I took this course in the first term of my second year, since I had dreaded taking it in first year because of the reputation that it held(i.e. “the worst and most annoying course you’ll ever take”), so therefore I refused to take it in first year. All of my friends in first year were complaining like crazy about it. Advisors had even advised me to not take it if I didn’t need it, yes that’s how bad the claim of this course is. My major requires this course, so that’s the only reason that I ended up taking it. I wasn’t too keen on taking a first year course as a second year, but it was fine, all my group members ended up being second years as well, so that was great! I honestly think that if it hadn’t been for my group members, it wouldn’t have been as much fun. My group was great, best bunch of people ever, they made Bio 140 fun. So when you’re forming groups, be wise as to who you choose since you’ll be “stuck” with them for the whole term. Depending on which term you do Bio 140 in, your theme will be marine or terrestrial organisms, in term 1, we did marine so that was interesting. We had a field trip to Tower Beach…..one late September morning….it was…cold. It just so happened that my TA was pretty decent, so that helped, but she did mark “harshly”(that’s the rep Bio 140 TAs have). The first few weeks of the course you’re basically doing stuff that seems somewhat “irrelevant” to an extent, to the second half of the course: you learn how to use a microscope, you have your field trip, you learn about simple things like abiotic/biotic factors, etc.  It feels very much like what you learned in middle school/high school Science/Biology.  Although it seems “irrelevant” you will still be tested on this on your lab final exam. Content wise this course is NOT HARD AT ALL, it’s really simple/high school like, but you just need to make sure you explain your answers very thoroughly. Although this class isn’t “hard” it’s very difficult to get an exceedingly good mark in comparison to the work/effort you put into it…the majority of people get marks ranging between 68%-78% … getting in the 90s is EXTREMELY rare..I think 1 out of 500 or 600 students last term received a mark between 90%-100% (according to UBC Pair). The second part of the course, you’re given an organism and you and your group have to design an experiment(I thought this was rocket science going into the course, then I realized it wasn’t…they guide you through it SO WELL!). It’s actually kind of fun, and then in the end you should have a fully written out experimental report(each week you have a certain portion of it due, i.e. the Introduction, Abstract, Methods and Results, etc) and then by the end you just put them all together and voila! you have a full experimental report written out. Then you have to do a group presentation about your experiment to the class(it’s not bad at all). SOOOOO yeah. This course is “easy” but it requires you to put time and effort into it, and if you do so, you should get a pretty okay mark in the end! 🙂

PHILOSOPHY 120 -Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking

This course…well, it was about logical and critical thinking, I took this because I was told SEVERAL times that this was a “GPA booster” course, I took it with Leslie Burkholder because his sections don’t have final exams (main reason for taking this course apart from the rumoured “GPA booster” aspect). I PROBABLY won’t be taking another philosophy course, just because I don’t really feel the “need” to, nor am I really all that interested to take anything “phil”-ish for credit. I guess you could say it was a ‘slack’ course, considering I maybe invested an hour barely per week/every other week into “studying” for the supervised computer lab quizzes that were held every second-ish week. This was the biggest pain, finding time to write the supervised computer lab quizzes. Quizzes were open for 3-4? weeks I think, and each week the amount of time you had to do them decreased, drastically. The quizzes were supposedly modeled after the practice quizzes that were available on Vista, but I always found the practice ones a lot easier, and on the rare occasion, the actual quizzes would have some of the same questions as the practice homework ones. If logic and critical thinking  and argument “analysis” interests you (stuff like if P, then Q). I think the thing I disliked the most about this course was the teaching approach. I wouldn’t recommend buying the book since I only really used it towards the end of the course when I started skipping some lectures(mainly because I wanted to take that time to study for midterms for my other core science courses); also, if you skip lectures you actually end up missing some important things that you actually need to know for the quizzes, but you could also teach yourself those things through trial and error on the practice homework quizzes, which is what I did. If you’re considering taking the LSAT, this course would be pretty useful to get a background grasp on logic questions, since the LSAT revolves around “logic” skills and reasoning and picking apart parts in simple/complex arguments. Overall, this isn’t really a course that I would personally “recommend” that someone take, if it interests you, then go ahead, but I’m not an advocate for this course. 😛  

EARTH AND OCEAN SCIENCES 114 – The Catastrophic Earth – Natural Disasters

I took this course online through distance education as an elective, last summer. This is one of those courses that’s considered as a GPA booster, or “that science course that a bunch of Arts students take to fulfill their Science requirements”. I actually enjoyed this course and you really don’t need to be super “science-y” to do well in it. Apparently some  non-Science students get scared when they see “science” in the name of a course, seriously, calm down! 😛 Most of it consists of memorizing, and it’s relevant information too, which made it interesting, or at least for me. You learn about earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes, space impacts, etc etc. You can do really well in the course if you keep up with the readings/DO the readings. It might seem content heavy but a lot of the information is linked and some of it is common sense. The distance education format of the course consists of multiple choice quizzes every few weeks, these quizzes ARE done online, which DOES mean that you can look at your notes/the textbook(yes the textbook is needed to do this course online) while doing the quizzes. The final exam was all multiple choice and some of the questions were indeed repeats of the online quizzes. The online quiz questions come from a big pool of questions so you may not necessarily have the same questions as your friend that’s also in the course. I would recommend taking this course if you’re willing to do all the readings and keep up with the material, because it very likely could boost your GPA. 

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12 thoughts on “#UBC Course Overview (FIRST YEAR SCIENCE)

  1. Hello again! haha

    I was just wondering did you ever take ENGL 112? Not sure if I’m just blind and can’t find it.
    Thank you so much for your tips and helpful blog!! 😀

    • Hey!
      I actually did take ENGL 112, but I waited to take it until my first term of second year (I apparently didn’t blog about it on here which is strange haha). I also took it distance ed(online) with Julie Sutherland, she was GREAT, even though it was distance ed, she was really great with responding to emails and stuff super quickly! 🙂 And thank you, I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I hope your transition to UBC will go smoothly! 🙂

  2. Hi!
    Do you know if the midterms and final are common between sections for CHEM 121? Just found out my prof and she is not good at all… Mark Maclachlan is teaching another section and I’m thinking of going to his.

    Are there any iclickers or in class quizzes I would miss out on?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Usually yes, Chem 121 midterms and finals are the same (there’s a common date, usually in the evening) and the final during december is the same across sections as well.
      Maclachlan is a WONDERFUL professor, I crashed his lectures many a time in first year. And in order to answer your last question about missing out on in-class activities, you would have to go to your registered class on the first day to find that out(i.e., my chem 121 class had a couple quizzes spread throughout the term, but the dates were already predetermined at the beginning of term, except I think one or two may have been changed – so make some friends in your registered section so that they can give you an update on those kind of things!)

  3. Do you have any elective recommendations for a first year science student? (I want something easy, perhaps more chill, gpa booster (?) ) I’m willing to put in the work, but I just want something that won’t take away my attention from my core science courses.
    Thanks so much! 🙂

    • “gpa booster” is a very subjective term haha.

      if you like psych I’d recommend psyc 102! it’s social psychology. it’s a fair bit of reading (as is any psychology course, but I think the exams are fairly straight forward if you put in the effort!)

  4. Hey there, mind sharing with me which BIOL course you took in second year and your experience with it? I’m not sure if I should take BIOL 205 or 200 (or other) :/

    • Haha naah it wasn’t Lehki; my prof doesn’t teach anymore. I’ve heard of people that have had Lehki before though, but trust me, mine was a lot worse… 😛 hopefully you won’t have too much trouble with it though! Good luck! 🙂

thoughts..?

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