Review Comment

Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

May 11, 2015

Charnick, Suzanne
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

It is with great disdain that I write this review. You don't really have a choice about taking this class. So, the issue is how best to cope.

Issues with the course:
Too many topics covered in very little depth
Insane problem sets with hundreds of problems summing up each unit (not necessarily helpful)
Powerpoint lectures with many mistakes in them, and contain tons of extraneous information
No formula sheets for exams. The final therefore means memorizing hundreds of formulas and being able to "free-recall" on command.

Issues with the professor:
Charnick is rude and condescending. Naturally, that makes her unapproachable. I cannot emphasize this enough.
She assigned a problem set due the Monday of finals.
Makes her exams way too long for a 50 minute period. Absolutely no time to check over work. You will most definitely run out of time taking one of her exams. Sorry.
Very poor handwriting and talks in monotone...very poor note delivery on the board.
Can't explain the material properly!

The point: yes, you will have to teach this course to yourself. It's unfortunate, but what can you do. The BC chemistry sequence, which I think is wonderful, (Rojas and Magyar were great) leaves a lot to be desired with this course.

Workload:

4 exams, 1 final, 14 problem sets with 30+ questions each.

June 18, 2014

Alexander, Jacob
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

I've had Dr. J for 3 different classes over the course of three years. He is quite literally perhaps the least efficient professor I've ever met. His lectures are boring and unclear and he has a tendency to ramble because he is obsessed with the sound of his own voice. When comparing him to the rest of the chemistry department at Barnard, it makes no sense why he ends up teaching perhaps one of the most important chemistry classes in the pre-med health track when he is so utterly incompetent.

Now if Dr. J was just a poor lecturer or boring or ineffective at communicating class material, that would be one thing. But this man should literally not be allowed to be a professor at such a prestigious competitive school, and in one of the most difficult and competitive departments, when he absolutely biased. Dr. J will give grades to certain students based on his opinion of them, a fact that has been confirmed by MULTIPLE students who have served as his teaching assistants over the years. He is also completely inconsistent with his grading standards, and will adjust them depending on how easy a test was. It seriously felt like he was just withholding good grades, regardless of how well a student performed on an exam. Unless, of course, they were one of the chosen ones. This is absolutely unacceptable, and I, undoubtedly among many others, demand that Barnard reconsider their choice to place such an important thing as a student's future in the hands of this man.

If anyone has ever been in his class when he has thrown an actual tantrum - yes, a TANTRUM - when someone's phone goes off, or when he has answered a question in the absolute LEAST helpful way possible, or when he has reprimanded an entire class full of 50 smart, beautiful, bold pre-med women for not doing well on HIS impossible and unfair exam, they will be able to attest to the fact that Dr. J should honestly not be a teacher here any longer. His presence in the chemistry department and at Barnard in general lowers the standard that we, as students, were promised when we chose to attend this school. Frankly, it's insulting that Barnard thinks we deserve to tolerate such a horrible and repulsive little man as our professor.

BTW, he is LYING when he says you can only take intermediate gen chem to complete your pre-med requirements. HE'S A LIAR. ASK DEAN STARKS.

STEER CLEAR AT ALL COSTS.

Workload:

4 midterm exams (all with completely varied levels of difficulty), one online problem set a week, and a final that can be worth to up to 50% of your grade if you do better on that then on one of the 4 midterm examinations. IS THIS NOT COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS?

May 17, 2014

Alexander, Jacob
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

In no way am I good at chem. I'd gotten grades in the B-range all through Gen Chem I and Orgo I and II, so I went into this class thinking I'd be lucky to get a B/ or B+.

Intermediate Gen Chem is a small class (around 50 students?) in comparison to the previous 3 chem courses in the chem pre-med sequence at Barnard, and apparently a lot of people dropped this course and elected to take gen chem II at Columbia because they didn't want to deal with Dr. J. Then again, most of them were probably the grade-grubbing types who didn't want to swallow a possible B... BUT if you're not one of those people and you're not completely hopeless, you should be fine.

I can understand why many people would want to avoid Dr. J. His lectures can be a bit difficult to follow (he tends to use "this" or "that" very liberally, without referring to a specific thing and he whizzes through the material at times), his office hours are not very personal AT ALL (imagine 15 very eager pre-meds trying to cram into his tiny office), and he can be condescending. He sent out an e-mail out to the class after a dismal first exam, expressing his disappointment, but it discouraged a lot of us and made us feel terrible. The Sapling problems are also very useless, and are a waste of time.

That being said, his exams are very straightforward and that's what I appreciated the most. While you are expected to think up of unique mechanisms on the spot for questions on orgo exams, Dr. J doesn't throw very many curveballs. There are many people who may not finish the 50-minute exams on time (myself included), so make note of things he says can be solved using "shortcuts" he mentions in class.

I came into this class expecting no higher than a B, a B+ if I was lucky. I was taking 18 credits and was generally unmotivated for everything, so it's not like I was even putting in much time into this class. Surprisingly, I learned a decent amount (enough to pull myself through MCATS) and got a grade a bit higher than expected.

All in all, not as terrible a class as others have made it out to be.

Workload:

4 in-class exams (50%), final (40%), and weekly problem sets due every Monday (10%). No problem set on weeks of exams.

Exam 1 - Thermodynamics, calorimetry
Exam 2 - Electrochemistry, kinetics, colligative properties
Exam 3 - Ionic equilibria, acid/base chemistry
Exam 4 - Nuclear chemistry, inorganic chemistry
Final - Cumulative (covers material from exams 1 - 4, +MO theory)

Sapling problem sets took anywhere between 1 and 4 hours in one sitting. They were pretty useless - the "extra" problem sets he posts on courseworks are a much better representation of exam material.

April 09, 2014

Alexander, Jacob
BC1601 General Chemistry I, General Chemistry Lab, and Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

If I could say one thing I regret about my time at Barnard I would say that I sincerely regret taking Gen Chem I and II at Barnard. Dr J is one of the worst professors I have ever had. Although he probably isn't, the way he acts towards his students and the grades he gives seems to suggest that he does not care about his students at all. Gen chem Lab was one of the worst experiences I have had in college and I came out of that lab crying at least once. Grading on these labs is completely unfair. If you measure .004 g more of a compound than you are supposed to, and your accuracy and precision are off, you are severely penalized. It makes no sense. A lab is supposed to be a time where you learn the background and the concept behind the experiment, not how well you know how to weight sodium chloride on a scale. Grades as low as an F were given out to students and unless you are the very top of the class in the lab it really brings down your confidence as a student. Gen Chem lab severely lowered my overall Gen Chem grade. It was really disappointing and I know that had I taken it at columbia I would have done much better.

I could say the exact same for Gen Chem II (intermediate chem) with Dr. J. He would wiz through material, assuming we knew it all and did not explain anything clearly. His jokes do not make up for the fact that he does not know how to teach. He would give us problem sets that were literally impossible to figure out sometimes unless you hired a tutor that happened to be a grader for the problem sets. Otherwise you are screwed. His tests (especially his first test) did not reflect the problem sets or the lecture material. It was just a terrible experience studying for those tests and taking them because the amount of time and effort you put in to studying for these tests did not at all reflect the grade you would get.
Dr J has a rule that if you do better on the final than you did on your lowest midterm grade, he would drop that midterm and replace it with the final score. For the final, I studied his notes, and focused on his problem sets and past exams (as most people do while studying for a final). However, his final exam did not reflect his problem sets or his exams at all, rather he focused on the subtle things he had never tested us on before. This basically prevented anyone from actually boosting their grade with the final. The final exam definitely lowered my grade.

If you havent taken chem already and need it for some sort of requirement, TAKE IT AT COLUMBIA.

Workload:

3 midterms, weekly problem sets (sometimes could take up to 4 days to complete because they were impossible) and a terribly harsh final exam.

June 18, 2011

Williams, Alison
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor William is a wonderful, sweet person. However she's an embarrassment to the chem department. She does not know how to articulate information or inspire confidence in her students that she even has a remote idea what she's talking about. Her incompetence as a professor is particularly frustrating because ultimately you need to teach yourself and the material is difficult. It's pointless to ask her questions, ask another professor instead. That said, she's a very nice person and considering her grades seem somewhat arbitrary it can't hurt to form a personal relationship with her. If you are premed, do NOT take intermediate gen chem with her. Take thermo and kinetics with Buzzeo or an equivalent class at Columbia.

Workload:

Not too bad considering some answers are in the notes or straight out of the book for homework, but it's frustrating that you need to teach it to yourself.

May 28, 2010

Williams, Alison
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class was pretty bad. Williams may be teaching chemistry, but her lectures certainly aren't credible -- she doesn't seem to be able to answer in-class questions and will prefer to look up answers after class and tell us the answer in our next lecture. She spends a good majority deriving equations to give us a complicated formula that is most likely never used again in the final or problem sets. Beware though, because although she gives many of these seemingly useless (or at least poorly explained) formulas, she sometimes has a question on one of the equations. There are so many that she gave us that it's hard to even guess which it will be.

The lectures and PowerPoint, as mentioned, are disorganized; some slides are just skipped and most of the fundamentals of chemistry are just glossed over with little emphasis to make time for more equations.

Even though Williams attests you can finish the exams before the allotted time, most of us do not. The reason is that rather than testing us on finding a relevant value, she will likely test us on the theory behind a formula --- which is perfectly fine, but the problem sets were almost exclusively calculations and no theory and when students ask her for the reasoning behind a theory, she crumbles under the pressure and lectures on something that contradicts what she said 10 minutes earlier.

Problem sets are quite hard if you do them yourself. I have worked on them myself and scored no higher than a 70. Going to the help room is practically mandatory and you will likely learn more consistent information.

I felt cheated into taking this class. If you are in the pre-med sequence at Barnard, this course is mandatory (or at least I was told) and if I end up learning nothing, I don't understand why I have to be coerced into taking this class.

Workload:

Long problem sets that are difficult to complete yourself. 2 midterms and 1 Final, curved generously.

May 20, 2010

Williams, Alison
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I just want to clarify that yes, all the below posts are true, with one small exception. Those reviews were written BEFORE grades were released, so the fact that we had all expected a high curve were purely speculation from Prof. Williams' words. I can say now that my grade is out that she barely curves. Despite the fact that her teaching is HORRENDOUS, she still pushes the responsibility of the bad grades on us. My point is, the curve isn't all that generous, so don't rely on it! Just avoid her or be prepared to learn on your own!

Workload:

11 psets that were the bane of my existence. SUPER LONG. most times you take one look and you could have NO CLUE as to how to even interpret the problem, let alone understand it and solve it!

2 midterms that were NOTHING like ANYTHING else we do in class. They were fairly simple, but we DID NOT know to prepare for an exam of that context when we had no prior experience with it (not from hw, or in class examples!).

The final was okay, but she might put up a RANDOM biochem question that's NEVER appeared before in class.

May 15, 2010

Williams, Alison
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Agree with all previous reviews. She is awful. In addition to not teaching the material, being entirely unfamiliar with many topics covered in the course, and grading inconsistently, she has NO RESPECT for anyone else's time or schedules. She showed up to class 5-15 minutes late almost every single time (for a 50-minute class), and was even half an hour late to the FINAL. She also CANNOT stick to a schedule, and rescheduled BOTH midterms on a fairly last-minute basis (because some students just had too much other work to do that week -- deal with it! it's college!). I have also never attended a class in which the professor brought her daughter in so frequently. Sure, she's cute, but she was distracting and made Williams' lectures even more fragmented and frustrating.

While I'd recommend you fulfill this part of the chem sequence elsewhere, I realize that's hard and probably wouldn't suggest foregoing the rest of the Barnard chem sequence for this one dud professor (because really, everyone else is stellar). If Williams is still teaching this class in the future, just be warned that you will be better off teaching all the material to yourself.

Workload:

11 weekly problem sets (go to the workshops, they give you ALL the answers), two of which are dropped; 2 midterms (she'll test you on theory when NO ONE ELSE IN THE CHEM DEPARTMENT DOES, so be aware); and a final. She includes stupid bonus current events questions on her exams, so you may want to read the newspaper.

May 03, 2010

Williams, Alison
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Williams is not a competent professor. My class was struggling to understand the material; the only reason there aren't more negatives reviews here is probably because she is new, and she curves generously. However, I can attest that most of us have walked away from the class knowing next to nothing about this subject, so if you are hoping to take MCATs... you're better off fulfilling this req elsewhere.

For awhile there, Professor Williams was confessing that she prepared her morning lectures on the train ride over from Jersey. After enough complaints were filed to the Dept head, she supposedly changed this, however I really couldn't tell. The issue is her lectures are clearly not her own slides. Unlike the other amazing chem professors at Barnard, she doesn't rehearse any of her lessons before she comes to class... but rather, she prefers to wing it. I'd be cool with this were it not for the fact that she is not good at chemistry. By that, I mean she would start problems on the board, get very lost midway through, then tell the class to make a big star in their notes to try to do the problem on their own at home.

She also posted the answers to our practice final at 8pm the night before. Not only that, but she kept having to re-post corrections, and in the end, she had posted the same question twice and was still missing a problem (there were 4 questions total).

I could offer thousands of anecdotes on just how bad of a professor this is, but I'll try to limit myself. On one of the tests, I had a friend who worked out a problem, showed all her work, then made a stupid calculation error at the end (something like 10*3=3). She was given no credit, and upon appealing the grade, Prof. Williams refused to give her partial credit simply because "It's the wrong answer!". I personally have no respect for a professor who uses tests as a way to judge students, not a way to assess learning capability. In this case, I'm not even sure why "It's wrong" was a sufficient explanation behind what Prof Williams was thinking when she was giving so much partial credit for other reasons.

Avoid taking this course. I'm not sure why Prof Williams still has a job.

Workload:

2 midterms, final. Weekly Psets which count for very little, are quite time-consuming, and do not reflect what is on the test (probably because they're from a much more competent Barnard chem professor)

April 28, 2010

Williams, Alison
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Williams is not a general chemist, and it shows in her lectures. She does not deal with the material that she teaches on a daily basis in her research, so she does not really care much about it. When she brings biochem into her lectures (which she does more often that I had expected), she knows exactly what she's talking about, because that's the area she researches.

Her lectures are incredibly unorganized. She brings piles of papers into class every day, spreads them out over the lecture bench, yet somehow can never find the paper that she is looking for. She becomes flustered when questions are asked, and spends too long clarifying the wrong things.

She really means well, but she simply should not be teaching this area of chemistry.

Workload:

Weekly problem sets that she give the answers to in office hours and in help room, 2 midterms (which are only slightly related to the problem sets), and a final. She drops the two lowest problem set grades.

April 21, 2010

Williams, Alison
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This is one of the worst classes I've ever taken at Barnard, and I blame that largely on the quality of Williams' teaching skills. Her lectures are completely convoluted, impossible to follow, and no help at all on either homework problems or exams. She is poor at answering questions during class, gives the impression of not knowing the material, and does not adequately give any examples of anything she teaches with almost no exceptions. During office hours, I don't think she could give any help at all if she didn't have the answer key in front of her.. it's embarrassing.

We're using something like 6 textbooks right now which she uploads to courseworks, none of them can help with the problem sets because none of them tell us how to answer what she's asking for. I'm in office hours literally three times a week for this class alone, it's absurd how much extra work I need to put in to make up for her lack of clarity and organization.

She's in over her head, completely out of tune with teaching, unclear, unhelpful, unorganized, and I hope that she never teaches this class again. I like Professor Williams a lot as a person, but I wouldn't wish this class on anybody, especially a group of premeds who need these skills to do well on the mcats.

If you can avoid taking this course with Williams, do it at all costs.

Workload:

Three exams (which she curves well at least, to make up for everything else), 11ish problem sets which are extremely difficult.

August 29, 2005

Lessinger, Leslie
Intermediate General Chemistry BC3232

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

GO TO HIS OFFICE HOURS! ALWAYS! His class is bothersome, and boring. He is mean, but thinks he is funny, but all business during office hours. He is much nicer during office hours. He will not know you unless you go to office hours, and so he will not really help you unless you go. Oh, and he changed the grading system that he had on the syllabus without telling any of the students.

Workload:

Madass hard problem sets every week that can vary from 6-10 problems. 2 exams, 1 final

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Alison Williams 2012 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Alison Williams 2011 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Alison Williams 2010 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Alison Williams 2009 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Leslie Lessinger 2005 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Christian Rojas 2004 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Joy Kunjappu 2003 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1
CHMB / CHEM CHMB CHEM BC3232: Intermediate General Chemistry Sally Chapman 2001 Spring MWF / 10:00-10:50 AM 1