UBC Semester One Course Overview (FIRST YEAR)

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

I took 5 courses in first term – Psychology 101, English 110, Math 100, Biology 112, and Chemistry 121. (fun course load? I know.)

PSYCHOLOGY 101 – Biological and Cognitive Psychology

First and foremost, WHY did I take this course? Because Psychology intrigues me(or I thought it did) 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. 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 it’s 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 ACTUALLYdid…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 correctness of your answers — as long as you click SOMETHING, you’re fine. 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 thorough 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 thoroughlyENJOYED 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. 

3 thoughts on “UBC Semester One Course Overview (FIRST YEAR)

  1. Also, what differences do I make between the different worklists I create when working on my schedule? Do I pick completely different courses? I guess you can see that I’m a bit overwhelmed by this process haha

    • I’m not sure if Maclachlan is teaching this year as he had received an award that allowed him to invest more time into research and stuff for the next little while, but in my year(2011 Winter Session) he taught Chem 121 and he was AMAZING.
      and the different worklists are to be made so that you can slot in courses at different times, so you’re not necessarily making worklists with completely different courses, but more so the same courses(the ones you need) at different times


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