Wow. What a challenging and rewarding class. The first day literally scares the crap out of you, but I'm glad I stuck around. Very few freshman classes offer such extensive resources (this lab was 80% in the P-chem lab) with such a unique instructor and such intelligent peers. Avila himself is brilliant. He really will stop at nothing for his students. He comes early and stays late. He'll spend 30 minutes showing you exactly how an FTIR works, taking it apart and putting it back together in front of you. He'll even cannibalize the chemistry museum for educational purposes. The group work portion of this class was much more challenging than I envisioned. My group was made up of very smart, friendly, and reasonable people, but by the third week spending six hours together every Friday, even the best group can see a lot of underlying tension. Resolving this tension is a valuable skill that will absolutely serve you well in whatever workplace you plan on graduating into. The one notably bad part of this course was the pre-lab procedures. They had to be blindly copied into the lab notebook, a process which took a solid and tedious hour every Wednesday night. Actually lab conditions rarely mirrored this procedure, and we always ended up making up what we were doing as we went along. This creative process was very educational, but made the TAs insistence on detailed plans of action seem overblown. However, this is only a minor caveat. The best way to go through this course is make sure you enjoy it. Avila and the TAs are working overtime for you, and care about every single student. You have a responsibility to reciprocate that commitment by sharing Avila's delight in the laboratory. Take this class. Tough it out. You will thank yourself later.
Pechukas is a brilliant man and and his lectures were interesting and entertaining. The course covers a lot of material and it's easy to get lost, especially since you never need to hand in the problem sets. Despite how hard this course is, and it is very hard, it's a great class and I recommend it for anyone who can handle it. The TA, is always there to help when you get lost so take advantage!
I agree with the other reviewers - Flynn is really great guy. The first midterm was tough as hell - I thought I did so bad that I'd be dropping, but so did almost everyone else. Plus I found out that he drops the lowest score at the end. For the second and third midterm, I attended lectures more often but didn't find them too helpful. I will say, though, he is about as entertaining as a chemistry lecturer can be and he's smart as hell. When you're following him, the lectures can be pretty interesting. I feel like I understand the "how" behind the formulation of the equations instead of just the equations. (like in the equation for frequency of collisions between gas molecules at a section of a wall, all of the numbrs and multiples in the equation make sense as opposed to just the concept). For the second and third midterm, I did ALL of the homework problems twice. They help so much. If you know how to solve all the homework problems, you'll do well on the exams. Not only are the ideas in the test questions all taken from the homework directly or indirectly, some problems are always reproduced exactly. There is, however, a frustrating challenge problem on every test. Despite my prep for the 2nd and 3rd exam, the challenge problem got me both times but I did do a little above average. I was ready to get a B+, but then I studied even harder for the final again just by doing homework problems, killed the final, and got a straight A. He gave about 40% A-range grades in Fall 2003, and probably around 25% regular A's. This curve is SO much more generous than regular G-chem, which I think is about 20% A-range grades. However, the students in the class are much better at chem than G-chem, but this one is still a better deal, both for grading and because you only have to take one semester! Highly recommended.
IG Chem with Professor Flynn will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. You'll be happy at first, because you only need to take one semester of chemistry. Then you will be terrified because you'll realize that this is chemistry different from anything you've seen before. If you're brave, you'll stick with it. You'll be confused, but pretty sure you understand things...well...sort of. And then, you'll take your first test, which will almost certainly bring out all of that horror and despair deep in your chemistry soul. Professor Flynn is a great teacher and really loves chemistry. He just sometimes forgets that we are college freshmen and have not been working in the field for 60+ years. His tests are HARD, and you will very rarely feel sure of yourself. This class is most definitely not for people who lack a real (AP) Physics background, as a lot of the chem is based in "basic" physics concepts that I had never heard of before. I probably would not recommend it for premeds, because there is very little real chemistry until a week before the final. Either way, it can't be denied that Professor Flynn is a great teacher. He is one of the funniest (in that slap-your-forehead corny way), nicest professors you will ever have, but his tests will bring you to tears. All the riding on his "spaceship Columbia" challenge questions have left me a bit jetlagged. Still, he is a VERY generous grader, and if you stick with him through the first test, it will probably be worth your while.
Flynn is a really nice prof. If you have any questions, he is totally open to help you. In lectures, he tells some interesting jokes, sometimes. That said, his lectures are pretty boring. I once counted at a lecture and only about one third to one half of the class was there. Probably a quarter of those in attendance were sleeping. I dozed off a few times, myself. The lectures are easy enough to understand, but the lights are out and his voice is a little monotone: a perfect recipe for sleep. The tests were challenging, but manageable and the curve is pretty generous. If you read either his lecture notes or the book, you can pretty much learn everything. It's worth taking because it is only one semester whereas G Chem is 2.