course
General Chemistry I

Apr 2021

TL;DR: It doesn't matter if you'll have to take this class in the next semester—avoid him at all costs. This review was written by a student who has been getting good grades over the semester and who rarely has any ill things to say about a teacher. From first grade to freshman year of college, I haven't met a single teacher who is as incompetent of an educator as Beer. The first few lectures made it clear that I would be wasting my time watching lectures, so I've resorted to reading the textbook over the semester. While he does share his "lecture notes" he wrote by hand a few years ago on Courseworks, not only are they redundantly long (200 pages, which is as long as the portions of the textbook combined) and don't explain anything, they are hardly readable (go see for yourself). I'm honestly surprised how Beer has preserved his position as a lecturer at Columbia. You will essentially have to resort to teaching yourself because not only does this professor not help you with your education but rather wastes your time. Aside from the fact that he assigned the 3 midterms all on Sunday mornings, a majority of the contents of midterm 3 were not even covered anywhere (apparently, because the average for the 2nd midterm was around 70 he wanted to "lower the average"... by testing content he didn't even teach!). The "practice exams" he released were nothing similar to the actual exams, and his "office hours" are just him staying after class for a few minutes (if nobody shows up, he just leaves). The TAs were nice people, but the recitations are just sessions of "does anybody have any questions" which are not worth attending if you don't have any questions (but this isn't the TAs fault because the content for recitations is decided by the professor). Again, just do yourself a favor. Don't take his class.

Apr 2021

TL;DR: It doesn't matter if you'll have to take this class in the next semester—avoid him at all costs. This review was written by a student who has been getting good grades over the semester and who rarely has any ill things to say about a teacher. From first grade to freshman year of college, I haven't met a single teacher who is as incompetent of an educator as Beer. The first few lectures made it clear that I would be wasting my time watching lectures, so I've resorted to reading the textbook over the semester. While he does share his "lecture notes" he wrote by hand a few years ago on Courseworks, not only are they redundantly long (200 pages, which is as long as the portions of the textbook combined) and don't explain anything, they are hardly readable (go see for yourself). I'm honestly surprised how Beer has preserved his position as a lecturer at Columbia. You will essentially have to resort to teaching yourself because not only does this professor not help you with your education but rather wastes your time. Aside from the fact that he assigned the 3 midterms all on Sunday mornings, a majority of the contents of midterm 3 were not even covered anywhere (apparently, because the average for the 2nd midterm was around 70 he wanted to "lower the average"... by testing content he didn't even teach!). The "practice exams" he released were nothing similar to the actual exams, and his "office hours" are just him staying after class for a few minutes (if nobody shows up, he just leaves). The TAs were nice people, but the recitations are just sessions of "does anybody have any questions" which are not worth attending if you don't have any questions (but this isn't the TAs fault because the content for recitations is decided by the professor). Again, just do yourself a favor. Don't take his class.

Jan 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this class! I know many people have mixed opinions, but this class is the most straightforward A I have ever received at this school. There are no tricks and he lays out exactly what he expects. If you want to succeed simply read the slides, do practice questions, and go to his and the other TAs office hours. Please take this class! He has some of the best TAs at Columbia! They held extremely organized and informative recitations and gave their all for our review sessions. I found my TA, David Vaccaro, to be super organized and always available. I liked TA Matthew Hammond as well for review sessions! Also, Parkin himself is extremely knowledgeable! Look him up he's an expert if I've ever seen one!!! Here are some tips on how the class is run. Much of the confusion about the quality of the class comes from the setup (which I actually preferred). - The actual class time with Parkin is NOT where you learn most of the material. To be completely honest you could not even go to class and get an A. The content of the lecture is just him reading the slides quickly with the occasional joke or magic trick. It is NOT meant to be a place to take notes and retain the info. I would suggest going to class mainly to see what he focuses on in the slides. This will give you an idea of the importance of each topic! - Show up to your recitation! This is where you will learn the most material. Take notes because they don't post the slides. - As suggested by the pre-class quizzes, you are meant to show up to class already having read the lecture slides. - There is a lot of self-studying, but it is not rocket science. Everything you need is on the slides and they are well written and very informative. He only asks you what you are meant to know. Here is a breakdown of how I received a great grade and the shortcomings I saw from my peers. - First GO TO OFFICE HOURS! Parkin is quite nice, just a bit eccentric. If you listen to his specific idiosyncracies you won't have an issue. I went to his office hours every week for clarification on the slides and to my TAs (and the other TAs) office hours for clarification on broad topics, concepts, and applications. - Come to office hours with questions prepared!!! He says this so many times but people come time and time again unprepared and wonder why he is upset! Make sure your questions are specific. If you came to chat make that clear. He is not a fan of the empty theoretical questions seas kids love to give. Please don't do that! - The best thing about this class is the curve. You would be surprised at how many people do not have the ability to listen, read, or reach out when they need help. Honestly just pay attention and you will be ok. 30% of the class gets an A. It isn't super hard to outwork other people. There will be an insane cushion. Getting an 85 average gets you an A. - There was rampant cheating because of the online format, but in a normal year, I will assume that the tests would not be so strictly timed. If that is normal though, make sure to practice how fast you do problems!! People don't practice at all, let alone practice for speed. Just finishing your exam will get you way above average. - Exams are multiple-choice!! If you are not acquainted with standardized test-taking strategies that might be a helpful thing to look into. - GET AHEAD!!! He posts all the slides just read them. - Do the bonus outreach. Not sure how much it helps but it is surely appreciated. Put actual effort into it. - Do the homework early!! It takes about 3hrs. It will go a lot faster if you actually know what you are doing before you start. You technically don't need to read the textbook but at least skim it. Owl online has an option to read it to you which is nice. - Make sure to understand the way things are graded and get as many points as you can. - Trust the curve! If you do above average on every assessment you will get an A. Especially the final. That really weeded folks out. Make sure you are learning to retain because everything will come back :) Ok that is all I got. The class was interesting and fun. I would 10/10 recommend. If you are taking other heavy workload classes you can still take this one just keep a schedule so you don't get overwhelmed.

Jan 2021

Parkin is a good guy, but if you're here because you heard about his magic tricks and bonus points, think again. I believe he did 2 magic tricks the entire semester? His rare demonstrations in class do help though...somewhat. The way he keeps track of and assigns bonus points (through those hateful timed clicker questions -- dw if you don't know what you're doing in class and get these wrong cause they don't affect your grade at all) to our final grade is obscure and super vague. I think it was somewhere along the lines of 500 to 1000 points for 1 point on your overall number grade. Also, don't ask Parkin about logistics in general. The only answer he will give is "check Courseworks," which gave limited info. The worst part was probably that nothing was recorded - lectures, OH, recitations. OWL HW: sometimes a good practice for the material, other times a pain. No need to do the practice problems for the midterms or final because the questions are not similar and OWL gives more difficult questions I believe. Quizzes: I recommend a later recitation in the week. The timing was horrible - usually 6-9 questions (with multiple parts) in 12 minutes. Always a rush to finish/check work. I missed many points for not reading the question clearly and/or rushing Midterm: Format and question difficulty are basically the same as the practice midterm he gives, slightly more difficult imo. Do some extra practice with Savisky or Roy's practice exams Final: difficult because you forget what you learned at the beginning of the year and are still slightly lost on the new material given after midterm 3 but before the final. Definitely cumulative with a good smattering of everything. TAs: God-tier, shout-out to Matthew (king), Daniel, and David. If you don't know anything, go to their OHs, and I'm sure you'll understand by the end of it. Recitations are a good review of info, but it's hard to ask questions because the TAs are in a time crunch to finish explaining everything the past lectures have gone over.

Jan 2021

Savizky was probably the driest, most unbelievably boring lecturer I have ever had. His classes entire consisted of him reading directly off of mediocre PowerPoints in a monotone voice and drawing diagrams in MS Paint. To be honest, the lectures were a complete waste of time for me because they only contained surface-level content and did not prepare students for his assessments. While he says the problem sets from the Zumdahl textbook are optional, they are the only resource (other than maybe recitation or OH) that will help prepare you for his exams. I felt prepared for this class going in, as I had two years of chemistry coursework in high school, but the lectures were so dull and uninspiring that I ultimately struggled and did not do as well as I could have in this class. On the bright side, attendance is optional, so if you are self-motivated and come into Columbia with good study habits, I would recommend not wasting your time with Savizky's lectures, and instead study the book/p-sets and ask questions in recitation. Overall, I would avoid this class as it does very little to foster interest in chemistry and will lull you to sleep if you do choose to attend.

Dec 2018

Just to mention, I scored in the B range and I don't mind the grade at all. Chemistry was just hard for me, but that being said I wanted to say my thoughts on the teacher. Parkins is a great person, but at times he rushes things and starts to confuse people. He later ends up doing a magic trick in the end which, even though entertaining, doesn't really fix that confusion. He is a good teacher, but definitely not a great one. He has his days. I didn't like the clicker quizzes because it was rushed and I would have rather had him continue the lecture. Even though I scored in the B range, I don't feel it is that hard to score in the A range. My advice to get in the A range is this: -> Go to the recitations. The TA I had was great and I honestly relied on him more than Parkins to answer my questions. They are a strong and vital resource, use them. -> For the quizzes, make sure you know what you did in recitation. The quizzes would almost always just be about the material covered in the previous recitation. ->For the midterms, I can't stress this enough, REVIEW THE PRACTICE EXAM. The practice exams are great representations of the actual exams. The moment you get the practice exam, make sure you do all the questions and understand the solutions for the questions. I had exams where I wasn't prepared at the slightest and was absent frequently because I was greatly ill. I went to the TA and reviewed the practice exam and managed to beat the curve. Again, I strongly believe that the practice exam is the best way to study for the exams. If you want to score in the A-range, make sure you study the homework assignments and the lecture slides. -> My final tip is in regard to the final. In the practice exams for the midterms, the structure of the question was almost identical, thus you can get away with not "really knowing" chemistry, but doing decent. I warn you that the final isn't going to be like this. The practice final exam would cover the latter half of the course, but the actual exam would literally cover everything. Including the beginning. I would strongly recommend studying a lot for the final. In addition to studying the final practice exam, go through all the lecture slides. My final recommendation is to try to enjoy the course. Chemistry is beautiful and we are the portion of the population that can actually explore the foundations of our world. Look at the course from that perspective if it helps. If you feel Parkins isn't good enough for you to learn the material, and that the TAs didn't offer that much help, I would recommend applying for the school run tutoring service. It does an excellent job of helping students. A side note about the "bonus points." I don't think you should rely on those points that much. I feel that those points favor you only if you are between two grades. Don't depend on them too much.

Jan 2018

Ok... to start things off... take everything CULPA says about anyone in the STEM field with a grain of salt. Anyone that has gone to college before knows that (a) every college teaches differently, (b) easy grades usually don’t come out of studying the sciences, and (c) just because you are smart doesn’t mean you are a great teacher. I will say in my experience the best teachers are the ones that have passion and can actually get into contact with outside of class. Some of the things that stuck out to me in this class were: (A) DON’T go to class and EXPECT TO BE TAUGHT EVERYTHING you need to know for tests. (Β) Everything you need to know is a combination of the textbook, powerpoint slides, iClicker questions, practice exams and OWL. (***SPECIAL EMPHASIS on iClicker, PowerPoint Sides and Practice Exams) (C) READING the textbook chapter BEFORE CLASS and DOING some UNGRADED PRACTICE PROBLEMS ahead of time made it significantly easier (D) Lectures ONLY SUPPLEMENT the reading (E) Ask questions in class and/or go to office hours. (F) TAs can be critical to your success (Hint Hint: Ellie is amazing. If you had her before, you will never want another TA) (G) Lectures given near breaks are always the least covered content, so you need to read them well and practice those sections on break Some of the things that stuck out to me about the professor were: (A) Professor McDermott is super passionate about teaching Chemistry and is always excited for class. (B) Professor McDermott is really good at explaining harder concepts when you go to her office hours. (C) Professor McDermott actually takes the time to learn your name, especially if you go to office hours. Tips to success in this class: (A) Do the ungraded homework (B) Use the professor’s office hours to ask questions (C) Make sure you take time to understand how to do the iClicker questions (They are more likely to show up on Mid-Terms) (D) Make sure you know everything on the class slides (They are more likely to show up on Mid-Terms) (E) Take advantage of your TA’s office hours (The combination of professor and TA office hours should answer most questions) (F) Take good notes early on from the textbook to save you time when you are preparing for Mid-Terms (G) Take your Recitation section later on in the week so you have time to study for Weekly Quizzes and go to office hours. (H) Go over the weekly recitation quizzes before the exams (I) Take the time to go thru the Practice Exams. They are usually similar to the actual exams (J) Practice doing questions quickly. Time was always an issue for me on quizzes and exams.

Apr 2016

I completed Prof. Owen's class last Fall and it was honestly the best class I took in Columbia. I am surprised I don't see more reviews on his class here. His PowerPoint is clean, neat and easy to follow. I rarely had to read the textbook. Reviewing his notes and attending his lectures are sufficient to do well in his class. He states clear what will be tested in his lectures and tries his best to make sure you understand complicated concepts. His office hours are awesome as well. He breaks down ideas, gives you more examples of applying the concepts, and is more than happy to answer any questions regarding the topics. He is truly passionate in teaching and is a great lecturer with a subtle sense of humor. All in all, I can't recommend his class enough!

Sep 2015

First week of class under the belt and Prof Owen is great! I was worried about registering for his course because there are no reviews to be found as this is his first time teaching the subject at Columbia. I was pleasantly surprised as he has a fair grading policy (refer to workload), his lectures are organized and to the point, and he really hones in on real world applications so everything begins to make sense. Lectures...he leads the lecture by powerpoint, which is helpful because slides are posted following lecture for review (he says he will try to post them prior to lecture in the future, but either way works for now). He moves at a comprehensible pace, will take student questions, and gives lots of examples. He definitely wants you to know the concepts, but the examples really drive the information home. He has an upbeat, approachable demeanor and his subtle sense of humor makes an appearance now and then. He also focuses on the information that we will be tested on. He made a point early on that he would rather us know what to study and have the exams be a little more difficult on the subject matter, rather than study and memorize entire chapters because we have no idea what will show up. Prof Owen uses an online discussion board. He would like you to utilize this as class participation, which is a great alternative to cold-calling and answering questions during lecture. I have found the discussion board to be very helpful because anyone can start a thread on any topic. We can see what our peers are having issues with, and we see a very comprehensive answer. Also, the answers are posted quickly because 150+ people are able to respond. The discussion board is not graded, rather taken into account if in between grades. That's all for now!

Dec 2014

Disclaimer: I did okay in the class so I have no reason to write a biased review. Friesner is a pretty shitty lecturer. As a matter of fact he reads right off his slides which makes going to class kind of pointless. His exams tend to contain awkwardly worded questions which at times make you feel like you're being tested on comprehension rather than the material itself. Also, his TA this year loved making ridiculously tough quizzes. He was a really nice guy but I think he expected a little too much out of someone who was encountering the material for an intro level course. That being said, if you are a self studier and one of those people who can read the book and show up for exams, this class may not be as bad for you. The curve tends to be nicer since his exams averages are pretty low compared to other chem sections. Some of his exam questions are directly off the slides so definitely read the slides after reading the textbook. Overall, I would say take this class if you are a good independent studier and NOT if you learn the most from going to lecture.

Jun 2014

Professor Reichman is among the most boring professors I have ever had to listen to in any subject. His lectures are a monotonous drone that completely fails to fill 309 Havemayer, but his slides are so unilluminating and sparse that if you want to get anything out of them you have to struggle to listen along. He usually does a problem or two on the board as is standard, but you would get a clearer explanation by putting the examples in the book through a text-to-voice program and pretending it's a professor. It would probably also make more effort to answer questions. A great example of Reichman's incompetence was the first day of class: he struggled to even explain the course itself. When he got to grading he said: "We drop an exam, but beyond that I can't tell you how we grade the class, it's very complicated, but it all works out in your favor." Presumably the whole department grades identically, and it's a z-score curve which is not too difficult to explain... Quizzes are written by the TA's and tests by Reichman. A couple questions each test were stricken for being wrong or nonsense, although Reichman's tests were a little more straightforward than Beer's second semester. If you want to get questions answered, you should hope you get a good TA or reach out to one of the others if you get a bad one. The textbook is also pretty clear, so you can basically replace the lectures and use recitation for questions. For all these reasons, lectures were basically empty by the end of the semester. The OWL homework system is terrible and a technical nightmare and yet you have to use it. I'm sure you could do worse, but you could probably do better than Reichman.

May 2014

Huh. My experience with the class was a lot different than the rest here. I got a B+ (despite doing much less work than I should have and not taking advanced chemistry in high school). I found the tests fairly easily, and got A's after the curve on most of them. The quizzes, however, were deadly. My TA gave some that were deadly (I don't remember his name, unfortunately!), and they dragged down my grade tremendously. But in terms of Pagnotta, I didn't mind the lectures, I liked his use of real reactions in class, and I found the food science interesting (though I am someone who watched a huge amount of Alton Brown as a kid). Overall, not a bad experience.

Jan 2014

Disclaimer: I got an A in the course. Parkin is a horrible professor. Not only is he not engaging and boring (although his in-class experiments from time to time make it somewhat bearable), this course teaches extremely hazy and disconnected concepts that most students have no clue what's going on and find it hard to relate to. For example, we are given random graphs and formulae to memorize throughout this course without being told how it's derived or its function. We have to take the statements made by the professor for granted, and practice plugging in numbers into these equations. His course is designed so that the final grade is out of 550 points. 100 for quizzes, 100 each for 3 midterms, 200 for the final and 50 for OWL. The lowest 100 point equivalent is dropped. A friend of mine switched into this class a month late and he gave zeros on all the homeworks and quizzes that she missed that first month she wasn't there. Anyway, as mentioned, his lectures are dry and soporific, and I never made the point of going to class. He claims he gives "bonus points" if you use the iClicker in his class, but after reading past CULPA reviews in that his way of incorporating them are mysterious and there is no curve in the end anyways, I figure his "bonus point" scheme was just to make students show up to class. Getting an hour and a half more sleep will prove a much more valuable use of your time. That said, he uploads his lecture slides to Courseworks which in my opinion is the best aspect of his course. They are clear and concise, and have a multitude of diagrams and colorful fonts that are really help understanding the material. Going through these lecture slides the day before a quiz, midterm or final is the key to success to this class. His midterms (as well as the material in general) increase exponentially in difficulty as the semester progresses, and you focus on irrelevant models and arbitrary formulas that have no foundation. Every midterm undoes the previous one (telling you that everything you learned before was a complete lie), and by the third midterm and final, you realize you have no way of catching up to the material and you're royally screwed. That said, memorizing these ridiculous formulas successfully will inevitably lead to a decent grade. Don't leave the OWL assignments till the last minute because it will screw you over. His TAs are horrible, and therefore the recitation sections are pointless to go to unless you have a quiz that day. I found it completely okay to skip every other recitation. In general, I recommend Parkin if you HAVE to take general chemistry (ie SEAS/pre-med). If you're taking it just because you like chemistry (like me), then I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you won't get much out of this course. I thought chemistry would be one of my potential majors here at Columbia and I now despise chemistry (thanks, Parkin!). If you're also taking this course because you want to fulfill the science requirement or just for the heck of it, get out of this class now. Seriously. Note: most students in this course are SEAS kids (most of which have taken AP Chemistry or the equivalent already) and pre-meds (who...well, are pre-meds) and therefore there is almost little to no curve (according to my knowledge, the mean is a B), so if you're looking to get an easy A, this is definitely not the right course. An additional note to pre-meds: many pre-meds are under the self-conceived notion that pre-meds have to get a good grade for med school. While this is true, I recommend taking Organic Chemistry (if you can) instead of this course since if you wait till sophomore year to take orgo, the curve will destroy your GPA that you managed to build up freshman year. From what I hear, freshman orgo has an extremely generous curve.

Jan 2014

I will preface this review by noting that I had taken AP Chemistry before and had some grasp of some of the material, and was mostly taking the class as a refresher course (hate me if you will). I suppose it will be difficult for me to say more about this professor, and this class, that has not already been said, but let me try anyways. [exceptionally short summary at the end] To note, I believe that most all of the below reviews (except the Aug 9 2007 and Aug 24 2007 reviews) are accurate almost in their entirely. Most everyone that I talked to had various levels of not wanting to take this course with Beer, or pity that I had to take the course with him. I mainly cited three reasons that made it desirable for me, at least, to be in this section. There is no need to buy an iClicker, there is no reason to go to lecture, and there is no graded homework. There were also the additional idea that it's a convenient time, in that I don't have to wake up early for it. There is no iClicker is sort of a trivial reason. However, there is honestly no reason to go to lecture. He is a well intentioned man, and nice, and funny, and a great person like most reviews agree upon. He tries to accommodate student desires in lecture and is very responsive to trying his best to answer questions thrown his way. However, he is by no means a good lecturer. He makes weird analogies and has many personal anecdotes (the fact that I know some of them, such as the Technitium story, despite going to <10% of lectures all semester testifies to this fact). He does mostly chalktalks, and the only problem with this is that he is notoriously unclear as to the actual material he is trying to impart, or what he wants to say. Many people I talked to ended up realizing that he takes material that the book presents in a fairly decent manner and makes it all sorts of harder. In addition, he puts all of his lecture notes online. So yes, his lecture notes are long and byzantine and his handwriting is hard to decipher and his lecture notes themselves have issues in terms of accuracy, but at least the general level of information you need to succeed is in those notes. In addition, there is no graded homework. This is a double-edged sword; it means that you can learn all of the material on your own time at the pace of your own schedule, but it's definitely easy to fall behind and be lazy and not do the homework. Chemistry is the kind of subject were there are so many if/else cases and conditional application that only practice drills it into your head, but you can choose to decide how much you need. I can't count the number of times I've heard friends griping about OWL and chemistry homework. It really is a light load off your worries. In terms of his tests, I think everyone else hit the nail on the head. For the most part, like 22/25 questions will be written with no errors and relatively straightforward. Probably 3 (maybe even more) there will be poorly written questions. Some are exceptionally ambiguous (what does he mean by "surrounding electrons. does that include bonds, and do bonds count as one or two electrons!?") and some require knowledge that he tells us that he doesn't expect us to know and honestly no chemistry teacher would expect you to know. For example, the one that sticks out in my mind was a question that asked "A chemistry program shows that PH3 is nonpolar. How do you explain this?" Well, PH3 is like NH3 and it *should* be polar in terms of molecular geometry, which was what the test was testing on. The only way to feasibly answer the question during the test was to rely on eliminating wrong answers and praying between a 50/50 shot. The right answer, that the electronegativities between P and H are so similar they share electrons equally, is a concept that is not expected to be tested on and we aren't expected to know at all. It was essentially, an irrelevant question that only is confusing. There is another subset of question, which is the "arcane information" type of question. Despite not going to many lectures, I attended the ones on subjects I hadn't already covered. Near the end of the semester, there were questions on crystal field theory/metal complexes. There were concepts that were tested on that were never covered in lecture and he made no attempt in lecture to describe that they were expected, and the only reason that you would know they existed is by combing his impossible to read lecture notes, or tripping up on a question in his practice tests and caring enough to figure out what this arcane information is/where it came from. He did this at least once on every test but the first. On questions that he wrote on tests that were ambiguous or flat out wrong, he placated everyone by saying he'd "review" them, but in the end, they basically stayed and essentially went with the philosophy of "the curve will make right every mistake I made while writing that test." This makes it difficult to stand out, gradewise. That being said, he screws up so much that the averages (for 25 question mid terms, was 18, 15.5, and 15) are dismally low. He rushes through the material near the end of the semester. After the third midterm (standard for chemistry, but still, what.) he expected to give a lecture on spectroscopy, which would be covered on the final. On the final day of lecture, he devoted 40 minutes of the 75 minute lecture talking about the third midterm and chatting pleasantly with the class. He then told us that if we didn't have time, we could just not learn spectroscopy because it was only 6 questions worth on the final, lectured for about 40% of the spectroscopy section, and ended his duties. His TA's saved much of the class, I think, by making up for his subpar lectures with their own mini lectures in recitation (or at least mine did, bless his heart). tl;dr: The benefits of taking this course with Prof. Beer only exist if you are motivated to learn on your own time and have some knowledge base; for someone who isn't motivated to learn well by themselves or who don't really have a solid chemistry foundation, Prof. Beer does nothing to help you out and you get to flounder on your own, essentially. Why would you do that to yourself, when you could take a professor who would actually help you out, or at the very least wouldn't snub out any like for the subject by teaching and testing it in such an arbitrary manner? The majority of people would thrive in a different environment.

Jan 2014

If you ever get the chance to take this professor..wait did I say chance? Oops, I meant MISFORTUNE! He is ABYSMAL. And take all is this into consideration because this is coming from someone who made an A- or higher in the class. For one, his T.A.'s give quizzes that have nothing to do with any of the reference material for the course. You can memorize that horribly made book and still be ready for none of what they portray in the recitation sections. Tests were often unfair. If you try to debate with him about a point on the test, his argument is that grades don't matter and one point won't affect the difference. This is all false, faulty logic that is construed also when he lectures. He lectures very bizarrely and can sometimes go on for half an hour about a particular food. Sorry, if I wanted to take Home Ec 101, I would've signed up for that..NOT general chemistry. Furthermore, expect to spend about 5-6 hours a week memorizing the insane/inane details in the book. But I won't pretend like this will prepare you for the exams. If you want even a CHANCE of getting an A- or higher then make sure you do a bunch of random problems because he can literally throw any problem remotely related to chemistry at you. Overall, you don't really know how you're doing till the end and don't assume that doing above the mean will guarantee you an A in the class. You gotta be making some kinda A to make an A in the class generally-- unless you miraculously understand the quizzes or are a chem genius. If you have any other option, take that professor. In fact, take Parkin, I hear you at least know what's going on. In Pagnotta, expect to be confused every single second.

Jan 2014

Professor Reichman was an excellent lecturer - very engaging, addressed questions during lectures, and made sure to keep lectures focused on relevant materials. However, he has an air of nonchalance with respect to the finer details of the class, which was frustrating at times. While he favored the importance of conceptual understanding, his tests would delve into semantics, exceptions, and nitpicking in a fashion that was not consistent with the broader-picture philosophy that he continually stressed during lectures and office hours. Professor Reichman provided practice exams for all three of the midterms (not the final), and kept the format consistent with his actual tests. While these practice tests were useful, the online component of the course (OWL) was not particularly helpful, and more of a burden than a study tool when preparing for the tests. Quizzes are sort of a wild card, as they are wholly dependent on your TA. The Professor and TAs emphasized that there was no grade disadvantage to having a "harder" TA, since all grades were standardized at the end of the course. However, having a TA that was able to effectively review concepts and provide quizzes that helped prepare for the exams could really change the difficulty of the course for each student.

Dec 2013

Professor Parkin is pretty much universally agreed upon as being the best General Chemistry teacher. He is also pretty much universally agreed upon as being a bad teacher. The order in which material is presented makes little sense. For example, Lewis dot structures and Periodic Trends are discussed without mentioning the word “orbital”, though knowledge of orbital structure is necessary to understand the topics. Parkin frequently uses vocabulary that he doesn’t explain. In addition, he wants everyone to have a very deep understanding of chemistry. As a result he moves quite quickly (especially after midterm 3) and instead of having a deep understanding, most students just memorize a bunch of facts. He is not very good at understanding student questions. If you have a question go to your TA. The OWL homework is ridiculously tedious and rarely reflects what you actually need to know for the class. His Practice Exams are very good predictions of how you will do on the actual exams, and his exams are fair. He likes to test random exceptions to rules on his tests so make sure to study exceptions on his slides carefully. I would suggest studying well and performing well on the first 3 midterms so that your final counts for less, since Parkin rushes through the last 2 chapters in the last 2 classes. If you spend some time during your Thanksgiving travel to read the textbook chapter on transition metals, you will be much less stressed when the final comes around. The clicker questions are a very good gauge of how you are doing in the class. If you get one wrong, make sure you understand why. I would like to note that my unfavorable review for Parkin is not a result of my grade. I got an A+, but I attribute that mostly to my high school chemistry preparation. This class covers plenty of material not covered on AP Chemistry so don’t get cocky. Parkin is the best choice for chemistry but still a bad one. DO YOUR BEST TO GET PATRICK AS A TA. He is amazing, and will hopefully continue to teach after his PhD. Patrick attended every lecture and thus knew what Parkin didn’t explain properly and knew how to teach those concepts in a straight forward manner to us. He also created extra practice problem packets for us which were helpful if you needed the practice.

Dec 2013

Although Prof. Beer is funny and makes us laugh with his anecdotes, he cannot explain things well. For example, when we learned Psi represents the wave function, he just started throwing the symbol all over the place on the board, while a more clear instructor would say something like "Psi, the wave function, ..." for the first few times when writing it. He tends to write things on the board as fast as he can, making too many abbreviations and not leaving time for students to absorb what he just said. The result is that it's easy to become lost if you stop listening for a few seconds to jot something down. Finally, he is bad with explaining by analogy, which is needed in a course like chemistry with so many abstract concepts that you can't see. The homework assignments in this class were all optional, but without doing them there would be no way to pass the course. Yes, I have heard the "this is a college class" explanation -- however, it is a college class taken by many SEAS freshmen who are just out of high school. A little bit of structure (and feedback on why homework answers are wrong!) goes a long way to help students succeed in their first semester at Columbia.

May 2013

I just got my grades today, so I guess I want to say something about this class (chem 1403 Spring 2013). Professor Savizky has a really low voice and likes to whisper his lecture fast, which becomes a problem for me. Combined with the bad acoustics of the classroom, sometimes students sitting in the back can't hear him very well. The order of lecture and that of the textbook don't go together very well, and we are constantly jumping around different chapters. I have no problem with jumping, but sometimes the textbook will say something that I have no idea of (i.e. it's the material from a previous chapter that we haven't studied) The lecture slides are not very well organized. I'm often confused about how different ideas are connected. I feel that prof. Savizky likes to introduce a lot of more advanced topics, but didn't explain it thoroughly, so it just leaves us with a lot of confusion. Students are very competitive since it's mostly a pre-med post-bacc class. So don't be surprised by the high average. The exams can be tricky. Overall, the class is OK. BTW, it's also my first chemistry class so I can't compare it with other chem classes.

May 2013

Professor Savizky made everything very simple - recitation quizzes and exams. Nothing else was graded (though homework should be done to prepare for the recitation quizzes). However, since the quizzes and exams were prepare by different people (TA versus Professor), they basically had nothing to do with each other. The exams were relatively easy - multiple choice test bank type questions (though sometimes, the difficulty depended on the luck of the draw). But since he works at Cooper Union and only teaches evening classes, most of the class were post-bac pre-med students and so the average tended to be very high. Recitation quizzes seemed to be relatively harder and very tricky. All quizzes are curved to the save average at the very end, so just try to do better than average. 2 quizzes are dropped and 1 exam is dropped. Homeworks were not turned in or graded. OWL was recommended but your choice whether you actually sign up or not. I never had that great of an experience with OWL in the past so I didn't bother to buy a pass for it. However, from past experience, it can be helpful for some people since it guides you through the steps of the problem and gives immediate feedback on whether you did it right or not (though since it's a computer, it can be annoying in saying you're wrong just because you didn't write the answer in the right format or something). It was also confusing sometimes where we were in the syllabus since the schedule was tentative. It would have been nice to receive an email saying which chapters were covered that week (since the lecture often left out a lot of details and reading was useful). Professor Savizky was very clear during lectures and went over what was he thought was important in detail. However, the slides could have been more detailed and there were a lot of stuff in the book and in the homework that he did not cover. He was also rather soft spoken and monotone. After my recitations, it was clear that there were parts that could have been explained more clearly. Basically, what he covered was good, but there was a lot that he did not cover and that we had to learn through the book and homework problems.

Jan 2013

He returned from a long leave of absence this year to teach Gen Chem, so there were no reviews going in. He basically reads off of Powerpoints that he uploads onto Courseworks, so it was no surprise that a large part of the class did not attend lecture on a regular basis. Class was not boring, persay, since his commentary was lively enough and his speech was often punctuated with very loud emphases on various random words. He had a useful acronym, "DGQQ," aka Damn Good Quiz Question, which he used sometimes. A fair amount of good practice questions in class, and he liked using polls that involved texting in answers and seeing what percentage of the class got it right, etc. All in all, an OK, not outstanding lecturer. The part of the class I wanted to emphasize the most was OWL. Most people I knew seemed to hate it, since it was mandatory, very time-consuming, and tedious. Although that's true, OWL also was a huge help to me, since it was a vast database of practice questions, all very similar or identical in style to the questions that Pagnotta puts on his midterms and finals. It's a lot of grunt work, but suck it up. That grunt work gets you the A. If you do the OWL questions before the exams, you should be looking at a very good grade. If you're not willing to put in the effort, you fail. Spectacularly. Not brain surgery to be honest. Overall not a bad class. You put in the work, you learn what you need to learn, then you get a good grade.

Jan 2013

Professor Reichman's class is a waste of time. I went into the class actually liking/feeling like I knew something about Chemistry. This class is about memorizing arbitrary facts that Professor Reichman thinks are important (he spent many lectures on Schroedinger's) that will not appear on the MCAT or come up in Chem II. His lectures are not boring - they're nonsensical! Try as I may I could never follow any of what he was saying, because he would just ramble on for an hour and fifteen minutes while showing PowerPoint slides that not only had nothing to do with what he was talking about, but were often factually incorrect and riddled with typos. The same thing goes for his tests - the questions were poorly worded and often there would be no correct answers listed, forcing the poor TAs to correct the questions in real time as you took the exam! I can't believe they let this guy teach. Chem I is a relatively straightforward subject and he really makes it frustrating.

Dec 2012

Let me preface this by saying I did take AP Chem in high school with a fantastic teacher. I took Gen Chem instead of a more advanced class because I took AP a few years ago and didn't remember much of the material. If you're in the same boat as me, this class will be A BREEZE. Reichman's lectures are pretty boring. I paid attention to the first one, but then I realized how much more fun it was to play Doodle Jump every lecture instead of listening. Reichman drones on in a ton of unnecessary detail, which might just end up confusing you about what you actually need to know for exams. (YOU BARELY NEED TO KNOW ANYTHING!!!) He'll ask the same question 5 times with slightly different wording/numbers, and if you know which equation to use, it's just plugging and chugging. (Don't worry, I had an awful TA and still had no problem with these types of questions – questions which covered material outside of the AP curriculum. They are literally just algebra.) As people have mentioned already, he provides us with practice exams that reflect the actual exams fairly well. Bottom line: you need a minimal understanding of chemistry to do well in this class. Compared to what we were expected to know for AP, this is a joke. If you have half a brain, you'll be fine. Your TA will make sure you know what will be on the exam.

Nov 2012

On the first day of class, Reichman came across to be very douchey. I believe he said something along the lines of "don't bother emailing me—I won't answer it because it's not important. Email your TAs." While that kind of pissed me off at first, he is a kind of busy guy. Still, most of the people in Gen Chem came to the consensus that Reichman is "the man." His class is fair and the grading is quite forgiving (drop two out of the seven quizzes, and drop one of the 3 midterms or all of the quizzes). Lectures are as boring or exciting as a typical lecture can be, and he goes into a lot of detail that's not in the slides—it might not explicitly appear on a quiz or exam, but it furthers understanding. He did, however, spend two full lectures deriving the Schrodinger's equation, all to say that we don't really need to know it. He puts practice midterms online and recommends practice questions from the book. Having a good TA can help you out, but the grades of different TA sections are normalized so that if you have a shitty TA you aren't at a disadvantage compared to other people in the lecture. As someone who only had honors chemistry in high school, I wouldn't say Reichman's an extremely hard professor, and I did learn a lot. Reichman's the man.

May 2012

This was a fine class. Savizky is nice enough, and cracks a joke every once in a while. This class is really not engaging in any way, and you don't get that much more from showing up to class than not attending. Exams were terribly hard- there were often retractions of grades, regrading, and some questions even the TAs were stuck on. At this point I have no idea what my grade is going to be, and the lack of excitement in this class makes me almost not care at all. I feel truly ambiguous about the whole experience.

Jan 2012

Professor Parkin taught an interesting and fair semester of Gen Chem I. I never made a point of going to office hours, but he was engaging and entertaining in class (lots of demonstrations and magic tricks). His TAs were awesome, hosting review sessions before exams and returned emails with questions very promptly. A breakdown: LECTURES: Clear and concise, with step-by-step examples and lots of opportunities to practice (clicker questions). Yes, it can be frustrating to get a series of clicker questions wrong, but the point is to test yourself. As long as you are participating, he doesn't really care if you're getting them right or not. In preparation for quizzes and exams, I found myself returning to missed clicker questions repeatedly in order to make sure I really understood the topic. HOMEWORK: Parkin assigns homework using the OWL (Cengage) system rather than Zumdahl. There are some errors here and there, but on the whole it is a great way to get lots of "drill-down" practice. For example, if you have problems drawing Lewis structures, there are whole exercises that just focus on that subject; Zumdahl problems tend to incorporate several concepts into one problem, which can be helpful and challenging, but not when you're trying to learn the material. While OWL doesn't mirror the types of questions found on exams, it is a useful skill builder. Some assignments were longer than others (oof, Stoichiometry -- so many questions on mol/gram conversions), but you generally have plenty of time to complete (except for the last 2 weeks of the semester when 2 chapters are introduced in a week). Completion of homework is a gimme, 50 points tacked on to your final grade. QUIZZES: Quizzes are administered in recitation and range from easy-moderate to very tricky. The key here is to review your lecture slides and any subtle notes that Parkin makes during lecture. An exception to a rule on electron configurations might be mentioned very briefly in lecture, but will be a 5 point question on a quiz. Doing well on the quizzes was the clean-up hitter for the semester, as your 4 highest quiz grades average together to make an exam grade. EXAMS: Standard Gen Chem I exams, 25 multiple choice questions ranging from easy to difficult. To do well, make sure you understand the principles behind the rules (eg: periodic trends, shielding, etc.), not just memorizing the rules alone. Parkin will definitely challenge you, but he's not out to crush you on the exam. Study hard and you'll do well. Note: The course goes along at a pretty moderate pace, until after the 3rd exam, when Coordination Chemistry and an Introduction to Organic Chemistry are covered within the span of a week (right before finals). It's doable, just stay ahead of the reading and work with OWL to clear up any confusion.

Jan 2012

I highly recommend Professor Parkin as a General Chemistry professor. He presents the information in a clear and concise manner, while maintaining enthusiasm and high class participation throughout the semester (eg: clicker questions, in-class demonstrations, frequent magic tricks). The material is not exceedingly difficult, but you do need to invest the time in order to do well. There are frequent quizzes (recitation) and exams, which allow you to gauge how well you are mastering the material. The Fall 2011 TAs were fantastic about answering questions and hosting pre-exam review sessions. Tips: come prepared to class, jot down the clicker questions (or at least participate, as the material presented is relevant to the exams), attend recitation

Jan 2012

Horrible, but fair, professor. His lectures suck, point blank. Contrary to what another reviewer said, his slides are his own, or at least edited by him, even though they say the book name at the bottom. He reads straight from the slides and seems condescending when he answers questions (even though I don't think he means to). He actually does care that we learn from him even though we are undergrads, even though it doesn't seem like it at first. Go to the TA's office hours if you need help; they are useful. All his slides including his exam review slides are posted online. Study them and read the book, and you'll be golden. The only reason to show up to lecture is that he'll tell you what WON'T be on the exam that is in the reading/he accidentally left in the slides. Definitely, definitely read the book!!!! Fair grader, fair exams. Average is usually low, so curve is generous. Can't say that you shouldn't take this class, because he is fair. If you read the book, you'll learn the material, and his slides are stellar imo.

Jan 2012

Before you begin reading, please keep in mind that according to reviews of other professors it appears that professor Parkin is the best of a bad lot. The good: -Professor Parkin knows his stuff. He is very proficient in the material taught, even the more theoretical parts. This might sound obvious but as some of you have already noticed, or will notice, this is not always the case with professors. -You will have plenty of opportunities to improve your grade. Professor Parkin has a rather complex system that ultimately benefits the student. The worst exam and quiz grades are dropped, and with 6 exam equivalents throughout the semester it is hard to screw up. -On the technical side of things, Professor Parkin is well organized. He posts slides before class, which are well written, and updates them after the class to match exactly what was covered during that class. Practice exams are posted quite early as well as the answers. Answers for the midterms also go online quite fast. -Professor Parkin is very liberal with his office hours and is very willing to meet with you at other hours as well. The bad: The bad things, weirdly enough, are derivatives of the good things. -Because Professor Parkin know his stuff so well, and deals with much higher chemistry on a daily basis, he cannot understand most of the questions that are asked in class. You might think this is not the case in his office hours, but I dare you to go and ask him a question. Not only will he not understand what you want from him (too simple, I guess) but he will also go on and talk for fifteen minutes about something totally irrelevant. -The number of quizzes and exams is crazy! 5 quizzes, 3 midterms and a final are a lot and turn out to be very stressful. -While Professor Parkin’s slides are very neat; one very important thing that he still has not figured out is the semester schedule. We spent plenty of time reviewing material that was supposed to be quite familiar to most people, assuming they have the required one year of high school background, and we were left with two lectures to cover the last two chapters from the book in which nobody actually had former background. -While he is often very flexible with his office hours he is also, in fact, absent from many of them. Going to his office before an exam and finding that he is not there is quite disappointing. -The online assignments are a joke; they are very repetitive and every insignificant typo will cost you the answer. The effectiveness of a written homework assignment, even if it is shorter, is far greater than any of the questions that are presented online. Additional info: -Be ready for some cool magic tricks throughout the semester (even though they are partly the reason for the bad schedule). -The clicker questions, which are easy at the beginning of the semester, get really hard so don't get too hyped. -A smart thing to do is to take a logic class prior to taking any of Professor Parkin’s exams as he’ll do his best to turn simple question into logic problems rather than chemistry problems

Dec 2011

Parkin was a waste of time. Why would you ever go to lecture? The hall is pitch-black so he can have his slides. Once, someone asked him to keep the light in the back (on for whatever reason at the time), and he refused, even though it was better that way. At 9:25AM, going to class when lectures were online wasn't going to happen often. So why go to lecture? Clicker points. If you miss high school-style competition, show up for class so you can click on your $40 waste of a device on some tricky questions. You can see stats (generally only half the class or less gets the right answer), and you can score bonus points, whose effect are still a mystery. When approached and during lecture, Parkin skims the surface. You know that what you're asking is deeper than what he's answering, but you have to take it like it is. Luckily, I had a TA who was willing to put her money where her mouth is, and pick up a colored chalk and work on the board with me on drawing structures, for example. Next, the homeworks. These were due on Sundays at midnight, and if you left them for Sunday, prepare to work 8-9 hours on average. And prepare to realize that often, at least 1/3 of it has nothing to do with the material in class. One of the first OWLs (ridiculous waste of money for the skills it builds) assigned had hours of "nomenclature" of molecules to learn. But in class, Parkin specifically wrote in the slide we wouldn't be responsible for it. Right, except for the hours we have to learn it on our own. So just like you might find yourself skipping class (ie clicker points), you might find yourself forgoing a couple points here and there on the HW. I'm saying this because these issues lead to one main point: Parkin runs his class like High School, and those of us ready for a college-level challenge are so turned off by this that it negatively affects our academic experience. Of course, there are plenty of "highlighter girls" doing pre-med who must love this, and that's why premed is going to be one pain in the ass for sure... The textbook (Zumdahl) was the most expensive one for me to buy, and it really, no exaggeration, belongs in the trash can. It's like smoke and mirrors, like a mirage: when you read, and you spend time on it, you come out with barely anything. It's actually incredible, how someone wrote an entire textbook so badly. Check it out on Amazon; I wasn't the "Columbia student" who left that review. There were 3 exams, in increasing difficulty. Yes, be aware that the course gets harder fast, because its focus on bs models keeps growing. Just when you master this basic model of the atom, they tell you, wait! we lied! there's a better one! forget all your freshly-learned concepts because they're wrong! So really, every exam is undoing the last one, because it's on the Valence Bond theory instead of Lewis Structure, etc. Together with the final and homeworks and quizzes, Parkin drops one equivalent. Often what's strange about these multiple-choice tests is that they feel like an SATII subject test - they're all tricky devils. You come out of a test thinking, ok, I probably got 2-3 wrong, after looking them over twice (there is good time for them). Then you find out it was like 5-6. In the final, I thought I'd got 5 wrong, maximum. I really went over them all three times, from scratch; walked out in the last 5 minutes. Nope, I got those 5 wrong, plus another 7. But did I mention that sometimes there were questions on the tests - especially the final - that were completely from left-field? It was obvious they were from past years, when he covered different things. I know that, because I had some practice exams from previous years. So even with the answers to many questions that appear, you have a guarantee that you're gonna get f****d. With dropped first exam, 89% of the HW done, 22/25 on second exam, 23/25 on third exam, and 63/75 on final, that's a B. No B+, no A-. Just B. And I was told to take this guy because he gives more As. This is one of those classes where you had better get everything right, because out of 200 kids only 25-30 are gonna get an A, even if 100 kids more or less deserve one. My advice: skip the "highlighter" courses for tough mofos who teach them - those that scare off people looking for high-school style education. There, you will be challenged in a non-frustrating way, possibly learn more (since you're not learning on a highschool level), and probably end up making the same grade or better.

Dec 2011

It would be unmerited to characterize what happens in Friesner's lectures as "teaching." He simply reads verbatim from the extremely elementary PowerPoint slides that he has managed to throw together. These same slides are always posted on CourseWorks, so by the third or fourth lecture, most people eliminate the middle man, read the slides themselves, and stop wasting time at his classes considering that they are simply an opportunity for Friesner to recite the information to you. Unfortunately, most of what's covered during the semester will essentially need to be self-taught, which is no small task considering the complexity and the inherently confusing nature of the material. Needless to say, the best part about this Chemistry class for me was when it came to a conclusion.

Dec 2011

This professor was useless. Professor Friesner, or as we call him "Ricky Bob Friesner," is completely uninterested in undergrads and really couldn't give a rat's ass about us. I heard that he is a millionaire because of some huge discovery he made, and is a major hot shot in the field, and an incredible researcher, whatever. But no man can be perfect. In Friesner's case, he fails completely at teaching. His lectures are ridiculously boring, he only reads the slides that came with our textbook (unaltered). Think that having a well-known professor will add value to your class? Think again. I could have learned more by reading through the slides myself for an hour and 15 minutes. Because of this, I stopped going to lectures right around the beginning of October. Chem was much better after that, I just read the book before midterms and managed to get through the course putting no more than 6 hours (total, including study time) of work between the beginning of October and the end of the semester. I didn't get a great grade, but it was worth it. Of course, Ricky Bob Friesner still gets a chance to fuck with us on the tests. On the first midterm, I got an uncurved 22/25. Then, two and a half weeks later, they emailed us to say that they were changing the answers to the midterm. They switched the answer to one question, and not only added points to people who got the new correct answer, but REMOVED points from people (like me) who got the old correct answer! The craziest thing is that one of the answers was correct in the textbook, and the other was correct in Friesner's lectures--so I got points taken away 2.5 weeks later for putting down the answer that our textbook listed. Wicked, bro. Don't bother taking this class with Friesner. Or, if you do, just don't come to lecture at least.

Dec 2011

This class is extremely boring. Friesner only reads off the slides that are basically like reading the book. I went to the first 3 weeks of class then stopped going altogether. He does post exam review power points that say, for the most part, what you need to study. I personally do not enjoy his exams, there's a lot of theory based questions and you really need to understand to subject to get them. He also words them weird: "Which of the following is not correct?" Which pisses me off because i don't understand why he can't just say "false" -.- The curve is really nice, which I did like about it. There are three exams, one of which is dropped. The final is fair, and I thought was relatively easy once you've taken all the other tests. We definitely need more passionate and class-engaging chem. professors at Columbia. If you're taking this course, I recommend going with Parkin, everyone seems to enjoy him much better.

May 2011

A very nice professor for Gen Chem 1, keeps the lectures pretty simple and straight forward, makes occasional jokes, and seems like a pretty chill guy on and off the lecture stage. He stricts closely to models and simplification, but I think that is how most intro chem classes would keep it anywhere. Sometimes in lectures he will add much more complex topics and details that you do not need to know, just need to know the general principles/concepts. He is also painfully patient, stopping for every single question regardless of timing. While this is a good quality to have, it was painful for the class because we had a few people that just asked questions every class and every couple slides. The only negative aspect to prof Savizky's teaching was that he did not relate a lot of the material to real world concepts. I wasn't really aware of this, however, until Prof Valentini guest lectured while Prof S was gone, and he spent over an hour on 6 short slides, providing examples and connections that we wouldn't have learned otherwise. The homework is not collected/checked, however, to prepare for the quizzes and tests it is highly highly recommended. The quizzes I think depend on your TA, however, ours was Emma Dell, and her quizzes usually had tricks in each of them that would take off easy points, either from not reading the question closely or not realizing some exception to a rule.

Mar 2011

I honestly didn't really learn much from her. She lectured from a powerpoint every class, and though I could feel her enthusiasm and passion for the topics, I just couldn't engage myself. I found it hard to follow her because sometimes she would go off on a tangent, or talk about something really complicated and I would find myself even more lost than before. There are iClicker questions in class that are designed to reinforce the material and participation in graded. However, I don't think I really benefited from them at all.

Jan 2011

Though his lectures are not always the most exciting and I often found myself shivering in the lecture hall, Professor Reichman taught a very fair class. I found this class to have many tiers of learning, with going to lecture being the base. I know people who didn't go to lecture, but read all of the book, who got similar grades to me, but it depends on the person. It definitely helps for quizzes to go to lecture, because your TA will probably tell you what will be on the next quiz based on the lectures. That said, I did not find Reichman's powerpoints very helpful, you really have to listen to him. He will stay on one slide for a very long time and just talk. He often goes into more detail and depth than you actually need to know, but by going to lecture you will get the gist of the information. Equations are not presented well in the slideshows, and though he sometimes works problems, I depended on recitation to learn such things. He will assign optional homework problems to do (no credit), which I highly recommend. I also highly recommend reading the textbook, which is actually not too hard to do. Reichman always stayed for 20 minutes after class to answer questions, and answered questions during lecture too, though there were not usually many. He provided practice exams before each midterm, but not for the final. These were helpful because the TAs always held a question to ask questions about them, which was a great way to study. I always thought that they were pretty similar to the exams in difficulty, but I usually found that the exams had fewer problems that involved math. Reichman is a fine professor, but with this class I think that having a good TA matters more.

Jan 2011

Especially towards the second half of the semester, McDermott sometimes rushed through lectures and rambled about proteins and biological chemistry (while doing a cursory job discussing various other topics that we would need to know for her final). Her tangents about real-world applications of the course material would have been more interesting for her audience had her discussions been more in-depth. Nonetheless, it's evident McDermott's quite dedicated to her students as she frequently asks us for critiques and suggestions on how to make her lectures more effective (with extra credit given as an incentive). In addition, as a renowned researcher and National Academy of Science member, McDermott is extremely passionate about her subject and her brilliance in chemistry allows her to be an effective professor and excellent lecturer at times. It is recommended that you go to lectures (especially during the second half of the semester) if you want an A in her class. She covers a number of topics such as IR spectroscopy and NMR to a much greater depth than the textbook does. Since her own research happens to focus on spectroscopy and NMR, her passion for the subject matter made these lectures quite engaging. She can be very helpful during office hours and offers many, many opportunities for extra credit (you can get up to 10 points). If you get McDermott's section, keep it! Despite the shortcomings of the class, you end up learning a lot of chemistry. If you do the textbook readings/problems and carefully study the material in McDermott's slides that she posts on Courseworks (it doesn't always overlap with the textbook material, but is an excellent predictor of what she will put on tests), an A is very doable in this class.

Dec 2010

Valentini is definitely a nice guy who is passionate about this subject. He tries really hard to make the material and lectures interesting. The slow pace of the first half of the semester left the second half rushed and there were topics left uncovered. We spent an insane amount of time on aspects of particle-in-a-box (a section of a chapter) that I'm not sure were even looked at in other sections of Gen Chem 1 just to end up spending very little time on the entirety of chapter 14 (which was probably 50% of the second part of the final exam). "Element of the Day" is kind of a pain and just a way to get people to attend lecture because he doesn't post the element information anywhere. Like a previous reviewer mentioned, a diligent friend is good to have. A good TA is a must. My TA, Colin, was a nice guy but his inexperience managing a classroom showed and every 50-minute recitation was unstructured and inefficient - serving only to make me feel resentful of the fact that I had to pay for that half-credit. Exams - 20 questions, multiple choice, sometimes ambiguously worded. If you think combined answer choices (i.e. all of the above, none of the above, D) A and C, E) A, B, and C) are frustrating or annoying, then don't take this class. Every exam average (including the finals) was around 15 out of 20 -- with 1-5 ppl out of 180 scoring a 20/20. Although there was definitely a GPA-friendly curve, the class feels a bit like a waste because I did not leave with a good understanding of the coursework.

Dec 2010

Most of the kids in the class are either SEAS or pre-med students fulfilling their requirements. The grade is based on 6 sections-- 3 midterms, a final (which counts for 2 sections), and the weekly quizzes. The lowest of the 6, based on z-scores, is dropped. My one biggest complaint is that McDermott seems to dwell on some subjects much more than others, while she tests us mostly on the material form the book. Class participation isn't necessary, although she does use those annoying i-clickers to see participation levels (which only count for extra credit anyways). The TAs are all really helpful, though you should be fine without their help.

Dec 2010

Prof. McDermott tries to make the class as interesting as possible, and always takes feedback on how to improve lectures. However, there seems to be an inherent disconnect between her and the students. The lectures are pretty useless, but I was forced to make the effort of going to class to get the dumb i-clicker bonuses (which amounted to 5 points at the end of the semester out of 500, arguably not worth the effort of going to class every single day). If you don't know the grading system, it is a combination of weekly recitation quizzes (1/6), 3 midterms (3/6), and the final (2/6), where your lowest equivalent is dropped. The exams were multiple choice which may seem like a breeze, but really it is not if you consider that a few careless mistakes will put you pretty close to the average grade. Also, don't blow off the quizzes. That may seem like the easiest 1/6 to drop, but the quizzes are always predictable whereas some questions on the exams are tricky and/or test you on knowledge of an exception to the rules. Conclusion: don't take this class too lightly, as I did, or you will end up with a sub-par grade. It is pretty straightforward but still requires work.

Dec 2010

I took Gen Chem because of my SEAS requirement, and have zero interest in chemistry. This class did not help. Although Valentini tried to make the class interesting and relevant for all, most of the lectures assumed a knowledge far beyond "general", and the class wound up degenerating into a free-for-all between the more motivated students and the GS kids. I didn't take AP chemistry in high school, but I had friends in the class who did, and even they struggled to keep up. Valentini, however, really has perfected his lecture-style teaching style, and is very willing to meet with students whenever. Had it not been for my TA during the required recitation period, I would not have passed this course. During recitation there's a 4-point quiz, and then the TA is supposed to review questions. My TA, Emma, went above and beyond, distilling all the knowledge presented in class into exactly what we needed to know to get through the course. The class covers a brief history of atomic theory, quantum mechanics, and atomic structure. I learned a lot, but really taught it to myself between doing extra textbook work and using the workbook (which you should absolutely get and use, the summaries are very helpful!). It's not really necessary to go to class; Valentini posts lectures & assignments online, and the mandatory recitations will cover anything else you need to know. There is this weird thing he did called "Element of the Day" but its not a frequent thing and if you have a diligent friend you should be fine.

Jun 2010

Professor Savizky's lectures manage to make a fairly interesting subject painfully boring. They are slow, and straight from his slides. I'm not sure if the professor knew this, but all of us had to take a Chem placement exam to get into chemistry. We know what a mole is. Going step by step through how to convert from grams to moles was not a good use of our time. Speaking of ineffective uses of student time -- we spent 4 lectures on naming! Naming molecules is the kind of thing that comes to chem students over time with practice, not something we should be forced to memorize. Testing us on naming conventions is a lousy way to separate students. My friends who took Beer and Valentini for Gen Chem 1 didn't spend time on naming conventions for organic and inorganic molecules. Going through and making us memorize the names of functional groups without giving us an idea of what they're for, how they work, how to use them, is completely useless. it's not even teaching! It's basically just reading a list for an hour. Though I had some problems with Savizky's lectures (see above), it was even worse when he stopped to answer student questions. He should have left questions for section and office hours. Oh, and speaking of office hours, Savizky doesn't hold them. "come ask me questions before class," does not equal office hours, especially since he was frequently not around before class. The midterms were both too easy and too hard. I found the first midterm especially troubling. It contained 19 gimme questions -- questions so easy that one of them was "which atomic number does not go with which atom?" Of the final 6 questions, 4 were hard, but fair, and the other two were completely out of left field. Whether you get a B+ depends on whether you can answer the tough questions, whether you get an A depends on whether you can guess correctly. How is this an effective evaluation method? Why waste our time on the first 19 questions and have a curve based on 6 points? It's not an effective curve when the difference between an A and B comes down not to knowledge, but guessing between two answers, either of which you could argue for if it were an open ended test. The final had a better curve, since Savizky tried to throw in some harder questions. His harder questions basically required math calculations, and if you hadn't memorized the formula, you were screwed, since they involved formulas that he hadn't told us to memorize and that weren't on the formula sheet (and no, I'm not talking PV=nRT level formulas). I did fine in this class (A-) but it was not a fun experience. Not overly painful, since it's really, really easy to get a B+ in the class (there is absolutely no chance you will fail--I know someone who got a 50 on the final and got a B+), but if you have the option of taking Chem 1 first semester, do.

Jan 2010

If you need to take Gen Chem I, Parkin is a good choice. His lectures are clear and helpful and he went through them very thoroughly (with the exception of the final, mammoth lecture). Maybe he even goes over his slides a little bit too in-depth. When he spent ten plus minutes reading and explaining one slide in painstaking detail, I felt my attention wane. Also, on the subject of his lectures, he took questions but seldom answered them thoroughly, slowing everything down in a manner I found unproductive. Conversely, the plentiful videos, demonstrations, and magic tricks Parkin employed were great and helped me get through the less-than-exciting lectures with a minimum of pain. Parkin also makes use of "clickers" during lecture, which were a fun way to earn some bonus points. Finally, beware of getting too cozy in this class. After the first exam, things got much more difficult, but if you study for the exams and quizzes, do all the optional homeworks and practice exams, bring your clicker to class for bonus points, etc, you'll get a good grade.

Jan 2010

Coming from an entire family of chem professors, I spent the winter break talking to them about my Gen Chem I experience. Apparently, it is VERY unusual for a senior professor to be teaching two sections of gen chem. Gen chem is usually a subject that takes a lot of work and time to teach, is boring, and normally not fulfilling as many are uncaring freshman. That being said, the reason Friesner is teaching two sections of gen chem is probably because his research has tanked and he has nothing else to do with his time. This would explain why he was grumpy, impersonal, would not write his own lecture material, did not like teaching, etc. Bottom line: do NOT take his class...he was the worst of the 4 gen chem professors this semester. Avoid at all costs. His TA's however, were generally helpful.

Jan 2010

Karthik is an excellent TA whose knowledge in chemistry and passion for the sciences will absolutely dazzle you. He also answers promptly to emails and is great in clarifying/reviewing concepts that may still be a little fuzzy from lecture. He is sympathetic to and patient with helping those in need of assistance in a potentially hard subject if you are willing to put in all the hard work, especially during office hours, when he guides you through every little step slowly. Recitation quizzes are almost all multiple choice and entirely-based on homework from the previous week, but can get tough because they actually require one to really understand the concepts completely before applying them and performing mathematical computations. He understands very well that they could get somewhat difficult and had no problem applying somewhat of a "curve" in the end to compensate for the slightly lower scores. Given his gentle spirit, he is more concerned with us learning more, rather than fussing with grades, and does not want to demoralize the class in any way. He tries his very best (and succeeds) in showing us skills in qualitative analysis that can save us huge amounts of valuable time that might be unnecessarily wasted on the math. I thought that the quiz questions propelled me well in terms of preparing for the exams, since they tested for careful dimensional analysis (keep track of all the units throughout!!!) and had "none-of-the-above" choices -> similar in style to Valentini's midterms and final. Too bad that he doesn't TA for any other professor. Otherwise, he is definitely a good choice and a wonderful person to converse with and get to know. He is incredibly smart and a pleasure to learn from.

Jan 2010

Valentini is a great, caring lecturer who always comes prepared and enthusiastic to talk about and answer any questions about chemistry. In the beginning of the semester, I dreaded the 9:10 start to the class, but it actually turned out quite well, given the interesting applications that he presents (e.g. Sony’s PS3 and spherical harmonics) and the stories he occasionally told us about his son, among other things. He gives an excellent overview of the general concepts that should be grasped and constantly (and successfully) relates back to the “four things you need to know to become a chemist” of the microscopic world. I thought he did a good job in filling the holes in my knowledge of chem by introducing, in an understandable fashion, difficult topics like quantum mechanics and Schrondinger’s equation, which really help explain molecular orbital theory and clarify why elements in the periodic table behave as they do. The discussions about semi-conductor were also extremely entertaining. If you are genuinely interested in chemistry, take any class with Prof. V, as he will fill your brain with incredible amounts of information and make you stronger than ever in this subject if you can digest the material.

Dec 2009

Professor Friesner is a terribly ineffective teacher. The slides come straight out of the textbook and by the end of the semester nobody even bothers to go to the lectures. I had a serious problem with the tests in that they were hard to score well on. He uses "Which one of these is not true?" questions way too much for 25-multiple choice tests and you end up getting frustrated, even though you know about the material than what is reflected in your grade. You'll slap yourself for getting those questions wrong, but what can you do? The most effective thing to do, sadly, is to study yourself. Study with friends who have him and pay close attention to CourseWorks where review material is hiding- the TA's, collectively, are helpful. The review sessions are so-so, I recommend office hours if you don't get ONE particular topic rather than sitting through an hour of "Water sticks to things, and itself!" Pick someone else.

Dec 2009

Beware. Dr. Friesner (DF) obviously hates teaching undergrads. Apparently he is an impressive researcher - overheard some students talking about how he is "the sh*t" but that does not apply to his teaching abilities. His "lectures" consisted of him reading off slides which he ripped right out of the textbook. Every 4 or 5 words in his lecture, he never fails to interject with his hacking cough. His pronunciation also leaves much to be desired - he managed to mutilate "Schrodinger" into "Shroner." The best part about DF was the way he told us to disregard the way the textbook broke the octet rule for lewis dot structures, since *according to his research*, hyperconjugation wth formal charges was a more accurate method. So if you are the type who wants to learn about cutting edge results from quantum chemistry research in an intro class, DF might be the one for you. I learned absolutely nothing from DF's lectures and was forced to learn the material on my own from the book and the TAs (Nicholas Anderson and Sy Redding were both extremely competent and helpful.) I'm not sure you could do better than DF in Columbia's chemistry department though. We had a professor who was teaching another section of 1403 (Valentini, I believe) substitute for DF once. He wasn't much better.

Dec 2009

Before I chose classes for the first time I did not think that the teacher I had would affect the type of education or grade I recieved because I had the belief that simple hard work and self reliance would be all I needed to do well. This is NOT the case in Friesner's classes. As many others before me have written, he seems genuinely disinterested in teaching and takes every opportunity to remind you that you are in gen. chem and thus will not go into as much detail as he would like. That being said, he goes into extreme detail in his notes that do show up on the test, but it is not laid out in a clear enough fashion to completely comprehend. His tests are extremely hard and wordy, which is shown in the average test grades of 17/25 for each test. All of the slides he shows in class are read in an extremely monotonous voice verbatum with no explanation given. People are allowed to ask questions, but more often than not after his garbled and jargon riddled answers you will end up more confused. I had a great TA though who clarified a lot for me. It is extremely important to read the text book and to stay on top of the material otherwise going to class will be even harder since you will not have any idea as to what is going on. In Friesner's defence, he does have a review session before every test and goes over what will be covered. Also, he did say the average grade in the class would be a B, so I guess if the whole class does poorly it is possible to do somewhat decently.

Dec 2009

Professor Valentini is a very nice guy and seems as though enjoys teaching but he isn't very good at it. Yes he'll answer all of your questions but what he covers in class doesn't really help you at all. He uses a slide show for all of his lectures which don't tell you very much. He also goes very slow so he'll skip important points or stay on one topic to the point where what he says isn't useful at all. We once spent 2 lectures doing one problem when the actual problems in the book and on the test were much easier than this one. This made class in general very boring and on top of the fact that the class was at 9:10 nearly half of the class didn't show up at all after about the 3rd lecture. The recitation sections are where you'll learn what you need to know so pay good attention to them. Also do the readings and the homework assignments he assigns. Even though they aren't collected you'll learn a lot more from these than the lectures. Make sure you go through the practice exams he posts as well since a lot of it(not all) will be very similar to the actual tests

Oct 2009

Freisner is very unfriendly towards students. He is extremely rude in person and doesn't really care about his students. Some of the TAs are also extremely bad and they don't know what is going on as they never show up for lectures. The quizzes differ in their difficulty so choosing the right TA will give you a better grade in the class. The TAs also do not communicate with each other or the professor, so don't expect to ask them anything logistical about the class. You go to recitations to take the quiz and that's basically it. No time for anything else. Just because they're your TA doesn't mean they know more than you. Keep this in mind. Lectures are completely useless. The book, however, is golden.

Jun 2009

It is not difficult to do well in this class because he curves very generously. I think something like 48% of my class ended up getting an A- or better. I actually took C1404 with him (not 1403, but 1404 was not a choice). I took the first semester of gen. chem with a different professor and I found Professor Beer's class helped me actually learn the material better. He does not use powerpoint, which I really appreciated, because I thought that was more of a hindrance than a help in my first semester class. He posts the lectures online after class, which I also liked because it forces you to pay attention and take your own notes in class. Overall, his tests are pretty easy to prepare for. He gives a review outline and a practice test. If you fill out the review outline (I usually tried to compile my lecture and text notes plus his lecture notes into a study guide for the test using this outline) and understand all the questions on the practice test you'll be fine. Sometimes the way he words questions can be confusing, but don't stress too much about this, because if it is legitimately confusing and most of the class gets a problem wrong, it will be dropped from the test. He is pretty fair (maybe even too fair sometimes) about this. I didn't think he played favorites or disdained people who needed extra help like another reviewer mentioned (I am basically science-retarded, so I needed a lot of extra help). Sometimes he makes mistakes in lecture, but he or the TA always caught the errors. Overall, I found him much more approachable than other professors in the chemistry department, and though there are parts of him that are unimpressive, I thought he was a good professor and as far as general chemistry goes, I think his class is a good choice.

May 2009

It's hard for me to know where to begin talking about Gonzalez. He is so incredibly awful, from his poor lecture slides (full of typos) to his poor lecture delivery (monotonically reading it off the slides) to his lack of email responses (two days before the midterm he emailed us telling us not to email him as he had gotten too many messages and didn't have time to respond). Honestly, this guy is the single worst professor I've had at Columbia, and I don't say that because of my grade -- I got an A. Perhaps if his lectures were actually decent, I would have been more forgiving. But he literally took them right from the book (as in, copied it directly onto the Powerpoint), and STILL managed to make mathematical errors. Moreover, he didn't even manage to deliver them with enthusiasm and excitement. And I can think of only two demos he did in an entire 6 weeks he taught (he team taught with Kaufman). When I did this material in AP Chemistry, it was interesting and logical. When I did it with him, it was boring and illogical. A "good" day would have 40% of the class show up. This is the kind of person who should be kept far away from a classroom. If you have an option, stay away from this guy. It's not that he's that hard; he's just that mediocre.

May 2009

After a semester of Gen Chem II with Kaufman and Gonzalez, I have new respect for Parkin. While he is not the absolute best lecturer in the world, he comes to class enthusiastic and prepared. His slides make sense, are logical, and are concise. You could easily do this class without reading the book and just reading the slides. Tests are easy as are quizzes. If you compare Parkin to a great professor in some other departments (Gulati, Brinkley, etc), he will fall short. But ultimately, when you consider everything, he is quite good. Highly recommend him.

Apr 2009

Valentini is an okay kind of lecturer. He's pretty clear if you're paying attention, but in all likelihood you aren't. His humor can be very dry, and he will make Monty Python jokes with such a straight face that you may not catch them. He spends a perhaps excessive amount of time on particle-in-a-box/infinite square well. Homework is not collected, but rather assessed in the form of a short (TA-written) quiz in weekly discussion sections. I could personally never figure out exactly what was going to be on the quiz, since it didn't always coincide with the homework material. There are three midterm-ish exams and a two-part final. Both are based entirely off material from the quizzes (all quizzes and their solutions are posted prior to exams) and he drops the lowest grade out of those five.

Apr 2009

Professor Savizky is a nice guy and good professor. Even though he's an adjunct at Columbia and has another "real" job at Cooper Union, he makes a ton of time for his students here and is pretty much always in his office before class if you have questions. He answers his emails and posts his grades promptly as well. The exams are hit and miss - they often have tricky questions with "none of the above" and " I, II and III" or "just II and II" as answer choices. The first and thrid exams had pretty decent averages but the second was brutal - most people didn't finish and the average was a 15 out of 25. You do get to drop one though. The quizzes really depend on your TA. There was a marked difference between the two that we had. The course organization was a bit off - quantum mechanics in the first week and the back to this is proton and a neutron after that. So that was a bit strange but if you can roll with things a bit out of order it is fine. Plus his entire semester's power points are online. I didn't do well in the class, but I can honestly say that if Professor Savizky lectures here again you shouldn't hesitate to take him. Besides the exams being tricky, everything else standard. Plus he's a really nice guy who often has interesting little "how it works" type things to say in lecture.

Mar 2009

Whether or not you should take this class depends on your view of chemistry, how much you would like to learn, and how much work you have for other classes. Prof. Turro is a mediocre lecturer at best. He attempts to shake things up with a funny slide or a cool demonstration on occasion, but for the most part, lectures are useless in terms of learning new material. Do yourself a favor and don't bother attending because they tell you little that the book doesn't (with the exception of the lectures at the end of the semester...those you should attend). You will learn a good amount of material in this course if you have little or no previous chemistry experience. Otherwise you will probably just coast, which isn't bad either if you are just fulfilling a requirement. Exams and quizzes are meant to see if you have been keeping up with the practice problems. These problems are called homework but in no way affect your final grade. However, it is in your best interest to look them over and understand them. They WILL appear on the exams and quizzes (many times in exactly the same form). Your final grade is split up into 6 equivelants (one gets dropped, leaving 5 worth 20% each). Each exam (there are 3) is worth one, a total of your quiz grades (one quiz is dropped) is worth one, and the final is worth two. The exams and quizzes place an emphasis on "special cases" in the material as well as concepts that Prof. Turro deem "important." Know all of these. The final is slightly tougher, but still a fair review of the course. If you feel at least semi-comfortable with chem and don't want or need to learn a ton, take the course and don't bother going to lectures. I got an A in the course with a minimal amount of effort and I am by no means a chem major. Otherwise, if you need a more fulfilling chemistry experience, find someone else.

Feb 2009

This class was a joke and so is Prof. Turro. You have to get used to him and his style of lecturing if you are to not die of boredom in class. The first 2.5 months, I went to class about once every 3 weeks since I found it so useless. However, I failed the second midterm miserably (despite knowing the book backwards and forwards) because Turro took all of the example questions from class (most of which were exceptions to rules) and put them on the exam. After that mishap, I gave him a chance and started going to every lecture. Eventually, I found myself enjoying lecture and following along with his messy powerpoint presentations. Like I said, you just have to get used to him. By going to lecture and reading the book, I felt like I learned a lot. If you learn how to follow his lectures, he will teach you. However, I find that most people get frustrated the first week by his style, that they never give him a chance and so they don't utilize him as a resource. He would give out optional homework every week (not for credit) and a practice exam before each exam (get extra credit if you score 80% or higher) - all are multiple choice. I recommend you do these, because he repeats a lot of the questions. About 90% of the final was made up of old questions. I finished the final in 30 minutes without even reading most of the questions, since I had seen them so many times before. This class is an easy A for people who put in a little bit of work and who are willing to read the book. Turro can be very helpful and clear if you learn how to decipher his style of lecture, and I would recommend you take him if you are willing to give him a shot. Finally, one student summarized the class perfectly at the end of the semester: "If I had one more hour to live....I would spend that one hour in Professor Turro's Gen.Chem. class....because an hour in Turro's class...is eternity!"

Feb 2009

I enjoyed being in Professor Parkin's class because his exams are reasonable and he is very organized. Although his note slides are a bit hard to understand, it helps a lot for the tests if you read it multiple times. I read and printed out the slides before the class then reread them before taking the practice exams and assignments. Going over previous lecture helped studying for clicker questions (small part of the grade, simple basic questions covering previous lecture). If there is some concept that I can't understand book covers it pretty well and sometimes explains it better. I got an A in his class by 1) reading slides 2-3 times 2) reading text book once maybe twice 3) doing assignments, practice exams 2-3 times 4) going over clicker questions twice before exams Often I felt like he got annoyed by questions during the lecture so I asked him few questions after class he was unenthusiastic. Although Professor Parkin seems hard to approach in person, I would give him an A as a teacher because his exams are fair and predictable and he does his job just fine.

Jan 2009

Turro does a passable job of teaching the material, trying to keep the class light-hearted enough (wearing a Fantasia wizard hat, playing Flight of the Valkyries, random class videos, etc.). In terms of material, just stay awake in lectures and most importantly, do the practice tests. The three midterms are based VERY heavily on the questions on the practice tests, at times being the exact same questions. Recitation TAs are spotty. While some may not know too much (and basically admit to it), they're nice people and aren't here to sabotage your grade. All things considered, Turro is an above-average professor whose primary concern is molding your young malleable mind into thinking in different ways. The intention is there, even if the presentation is so-so.

Jan 2009

Nick Turro is a sweet man, but a very boring lecturer. Also, the lectures he posts online are often quite different from the ones actually given in lecture, with a mix of extra slides, missing slides, and out of order slides, which is generally irritating if your trying to take notes on a print out of the given lecture. I thought that the tests/homeworks/quizzes, etc. were difficult until I realized the secret: he reuses the exact same questions (same question, same numbers, same answer options in the same order) over and over again. One question appear on a quiz, on a homework, on a practice exam, on a midterm, and on the final. By the time I took the final, I'd already seen probably 70% of those questions before. Yes, this made it easier to get a better grade. No, this did not help me learn how to actually do the problems (ie learn the subject matter), since I didn't have to know how I got the answer after a while, I only had to remember what the answer was. So, not too hard to do pretty well if you pay attention. Far more important than going to lecture is doing every homework, every practice exam, and taking every quiz (your graded on those last ones, any way). With that, you'll do fine. You should know the material anyway (read the book!), but the exams will be much more familiar than you'd expect.

Jan 2009

The class was really easy, perhaps the hardest part of it was to stay awake/focused for the entire duration of the lecture. Frankly, the only reason I went to (or attempted) to go to every lecture was because you can get extra point with the clicker questions that pop out two or three times during the entire lecture. The materials are completely different from those learned in AP Chem, so you would have to actually study on your own. That said, it's fairly easy because all you have to do well is to read over the chapter section once, and then memorize every single problems on the homework and practice midterms he posts on coursework. It's an easy A if that's what you are looking for.

Jan 2009

Columbia is fortunate to have someone like Dr. Parkin. Not only did he manage to engage us by demonstrating experiments or using multimedia in lecture, but also he would more than once emphasize the critical points. His lecture slides are straightforward and tell a coherent yet interesting story of general Chemistry. If you ever stumble over a question at any point, you can always ask him as well as Aaron or Wes. They are always prepared to answer your questions. The homework and practice midterm problems are followed by detailed answers to all questions. Dr. Parkin and his TAs are truly invaluable to Columbia.

Jan 2009

Professor Valentini is absolutely approachable and responsive to student needs. He loves to teach. Will always make time for you and answer e-mails. Super nice guy. Quizzes are about 20% of your grade and a bit tricky. Pay attention to what your TAs say in recitation as TAs contribute to quiz questions. I realize now that many test (midterm/final) questions were based on the class slides so study them well. Class slides, Professor Valentini's comments and homeworks (especially additional problems) are more important than reading the book. Test questions can also be a bit tricky with nuances that sometimes are demoralizing. But as long as you stay consistently above the curve -- and Professor Valentini is super-organized about administration so you always know where you stand -- you can do well. Plus, he's very fair about the way point system works in grading. If you don't do well in something it's not end of the world (you can drop 2 of 8 quizzes, you can drop 1 of 5 25-point exams (you have three 25-point midterms and two 25-point parts to final exam, you can add 9 points to your total semester score count by writing good, sample test question with explanations before each of three midterm exams). Overall, I highly recommend Professor Valentini and his class.

Dec 2008

I felt like this class was a joke. At first it seemed okay, with Valentini going for a more conceptual understanding of chemistry. And I did the first homework with the intent of handing it in. But then I found out homework wasn't collected, and I never did homework after that. After the quiz, I also found that class was not really helpful either, as all that conceptual stuff didn't help with calculations and stuff. Maybe the homework would have compensated for that, but I didn't have the drive. Class should have been helping me, and it didn't. The thing is the class was easy enough so that I could survive the quizzes and midterms with just studying the night before. I ended up getting a B+ with not even really trying that much, so take that for what it's worth. Valentini is not a bad choice I guess if you don't want to do that much work. Grading is fair, one grade equivalent to a midterm or one of the finals is dropped. The midterms were tricky for no reason, with multiple choice questions with all and none of the above, or A and C or B and D as another choice. Maybe you're better off with Parkin; I think he is more straightforward.

Dec 2008

Brutal. If you have never taken chemistry before, this is class is going to kick your ass. The overall course structure is a complete disaster, the textbook is your only hope for survival. Even once you think you understand these obscure and overly-complicated theories, it's difficult to apply them. Be wary - don't let Parkin lure you in with the promise of magic tricks. He'll wave around some cheap magic-trick toys, blow some stuff up or pop some balloons - but it's just to lead you into a false sense of security. He'll also spend the first few lectures on "what is an atom?" and "what is an element?" - but do NOT get comfortable. The course material gets completely convoluted and crazy complicated in the later lectures... But maybe I'm still a little bitter since virtually the entire final was based on the most over-your-head concepts he'd introduced by jam-packing it all into 80 lecture slides just days before. Professor Parkin, if you're out there...Why?! Why would you do that?!?

Dec 2008

Valentini is a wonderful chemistry teacher! His tests, although reasonably hard the first time you take them, get easier once you realize the format and how to study. But one strong advice, STUDY!!!!! Chemistry is going to be hard if you don't put in the effort, and that just goes across the board for chem teachers. Valentini is incredibly nice. He responds to emails quickly and is always willing to help. His lectures are straightforward, in the sense that everything posted is fair game for the tests and you do learn from them.

Dec 2008

Good lecturer - not great, but he gets the job done, and appears to be the best option. Tries to make lectures engaging by providing real world applications of material in the text. However, the enriching material is neglected on the test, making lectures, quite frequently, feel pointless.

Dec 2008

I went to lecture every week and found them to be interesting and easy to follow. He does an excellent job with the lecture slides and is very diligent about staying in touch with his students through email and the discussion board on courseworks. His demonstrations in class are very amusing as well. While he doesn't lecture directly towards his midterms and final, he provides enough study material.

Dec 2008

Before I took Valentini, I saw some good and some bad comments on him and I thought it would be great having the head of the chem department writing a rec letter for med school. Having taking him, I think that was a mistake. Valentini was a real nice professor and cared alot about his students. But the homework and quizzes were easy compared to the exams. Take him if you want to learn alot extra than what you are supposed to learn in gen chem I, not if you have to get an "A" to get into med school. Study hard, read his slides alot, and you will be fine.

Dec 2008

Professor Valentini is one of the nicest professors I've ever met. He would do anything to help you learn the concepts taught in class. He is very approachable during office hours and if you want to meet with him outside his office hours, he will bend over backward to fit you in. A quick story about Valentini going the extra mile: There are weekly recitations for the class that are taught by graduate TAs. Usually, quizzes are taken during recitation but one week there was no quiz and my TA wasn't able to make it to recitation. The recitation was going to be devoted to reviewing for an upcoming midterm. Instead of just canceling the recitation, Valentini himself came in to teach for the 10 or so people in my recitation section. Lectures can be boring at times, but Valentini logically orders the material so that it makes sense. All lecture slides are posted online. He really does try to make the material as interesting as possible, which he is able to do because he really enjoys Chemistry.

Dec 2008

Valentini was the worst professor I've ever had. His lectures have no coherency and he's insanely boring. I barely learned anything in that class and I don't recommend him to anybody.

Dec 2008

Nicholas Turro is the worst teacher I have ever had. His lectures are the most boring I've ever heard. He reads his powerpoint out loud. His homeworks are all multiple choice and totally useless. I can't say anything bad enough about this class. Its only redeeming aspect is that St. Nick clearly wants us all to learn. Also, my TA Ben "ya I don't know" Dach doesn't know chemistry. Going to class is completely pointless. You are better off reading the book and doing the homeworks. I haven't taken the final yet, but the midterms were all taken from homeworks and the practice exams.

Dec 2008

Professor Parkin is great--he's an interesting and to-the-point lecturer and the vast majority of the information you are tested on comes directly from his lecture slides. The first few classes have magic shows to get them going, but things stay interesting after that. The homework (not part of your grade) is very helpful and often test questions come directly from it. He provides practice exams before each test that are also very useful and again sometimes picks the actual exam questions from there. The class isn't easy--sometimes the information is difficult to get through and you need to spend time outside of class to make sense of things, but in our case the TA's--Wes & Aaron Sattler--were very knowledgeable and helpful and good teachers themselves. Ultimately the tests aren't easy but they are fair--they stretch your ability to manipulate your knowledge of the information and, if you are taking the MCATs, I think this is a good thing to get practice with. Overall, I would say take this class.

Dec 2008

Parkin, simply put, is horrible. He started off friendly and easy and did those "magic tricks" he's said to do. But towards the end, he turned kind of nasty, not just as a professor but as also as a person. The chemistry he teaches is vague and useless. Ruined my chem experience.

Apr 2008

I have to disagree with aspects of the previous reviews. I was in both sessions of the class, and found him to be quite unhelpful. He has a tendency to play favorites with the people whom he likes because they're on top of the material and helps them further, while being less helpful to those who are having issues with the material. Oddly, he even played favorites with the classes (term I vs term II), telling the term II class that he liked them better. I found this bizarre for a professor and indicative of his general attitude. As for his exams, in this case, I do actually agree with the previous reviews. His tests were generally fair, had the occasional mistake and he adjusted them based on the experiences of the students. The material is dry, but he does an OK job with what he has to work with. He occasionally deviated from the material in the book by going into more depth (ex: heisenberg principle of uncertainty), but nothing major. Overall, fair, but I found his attitude towards those who wanted/needed help contrary to what one would want in a teacher.

Apr 2008

flynn is horrific. hes boring, the material is dense and uninteresting and his powerpoints of just equation after equation is completely useless. no one goes to class. ever. average of about 20 people are in a given lecture out of 160 kids. tests are basically the same as previous years, with a few words changed. very frustrating class for me, destroyed alot of my interest in chemistry. i read a culpa review about how boring and bad flynn was vefore taking his class, but decided to take it anyway, which was a huge mistake. if you have any choice, dont take flynns class. Even brydges is a 100 times better than he.

Apr 2008

Stacy is one of the nicest and easily approachable professor on campus. The material that is covered first semester begins to get confusing after the first midterm and going to Stacy's lectures doesn't really help much. Stacy is not the best lecturer, but she's great one-on-one. On the plus side she has really good slides and you can just learn everything from the slides.

Jan 2008

At the beginning of the semester, Professor Parkin did a magic trick during each class. Once he stopped during magic tricks, I stopped going to class. That is not to say he wasn't a good teacher with a charming accent, but that the tricks were more interesting than the material and full lectures and sample problems with solutions were readily available on Courseworks. The class gets noticeably harder after the first midterm so don't start slacking. The textbook is not that useful because all the important material is contained in the lectures which are posted online.

Dec 2007

Very nice guy. Very accessable. Explains things ok. Gives really easy quizzes (most important trait of a good TA).

Dec 2007

I'm not sure where to begin. Just like Gerard Parkin. He'll start out lecturing on complicated material, and then just briefly mention the fundamental basics that are necessary for understanding later on. Thankfully, you've got the lectures online to save you. The textbook's a mess, as is the chem department's Gen Chem 1 curriculum (which he can't do anything about). Homeworks and Practice Exams are really the only way to learn the material, which is fine because they closely resemble the actual exams. The curve is nice, and he apparently does magic tricks or something, but be prepared to not learn anything worthwhile (that, supposedly, comes in Gen Chem 2). Oh, and don't expect your 5 on AP Chem to give you an edge...you've never most of this material before. The Gen Chem professors are all pretty lackluster, so I guess he's one of the better options. Things I Learned This Semester: Something about plastics in The Graduate, the Ultraviolet Catastrophe would devastate the countryside, I do not understand how my eyes work, my electron is over here and way out there....at the same time! and plastics are everywhere! (even in The Graduate). Yes! I'm gonna ace the MCAT's now! Overall, it's more the course that sucks than he does. The Chem department needs to seriously revise it, ASAP. I went from being a prospective chem major to choosing not even to take another semester of chemistry.

Dec 2007

Dr. Parkin is a wonderful teacher. He has a masterful ability to elucidate complex concepts and infuses the class with a sense of humor that is sorely lacking elsewhere. Tests are almost entirely fair, as soon as you realize that all you need to know is every single chart, diagram, and detail on every single one of his lecture slides

Dec 2007

He can sometimes come off as really mean and condescending, but if you go to his office hours and get to know him, you'll find he's actually ok. It can be hard to get your questions answered during office hours, as he goes on interminable tangents about random topics (he LOVES to talk about where students are from or explain how car batteries work...). the practice problems are really helpful. exams are pretty tough. overall the class requires A LOT of work, you'll probably feel like you're devoting your life to chemistry. but if you really have to take this class (DON'T DO IT if it's just to fulfill the science requirement!), Lessinger is not too bad (from what I've heard about the other chem professors at least)

Sep 2007

This class was easy, and Turro's lectures were fine, but overall I felt this class was poorly taught. A lot of the exam questions were sort of like trivia questions. If you do the practice exams you should be able to figure out which trivia questions will be on the test, but this class will not prepare you for the MCAT at all. The biggest indication that this class was poorly taught was that there were "broken" questions on every single exam, i.e. questions that had no correct answer or more than one correct answer. Couldn't someone proofread the tests just once? Also, my TA was shockingly bad (in contrast to my TA from Flynn's second semester class). I would recommend this class because it was so easy (I got an A+), but this is not a good class.

Sep 2007

I can't even describe how bad this guy was. It wasn't so much that he couldn't speak English (I've had some TA's whose English was poor but were still pretty good), but that he really didn't seem to care at all about this class. It's frustrating that the chemistry department would hire someone like this, they can obviously do much better.

Aug 2007

Amazing professor. Makes everythings simple to understand. No need to read the text if you go to lectures and listen. Sample exams are very similar to actual exams; make sure you can do every question on the sample exam.

Aug 2007

Professor Beer is an excellent teacher. I was a little worried going into this class based on past reviews, but it seems he has taken in a lot of feedback and changed his methods. He genuinely cares about the success of his students, a rare quality in freshman lectures, and asks for as much input as possible to make his students happy. His grading was extremely fair, and even adjusted it after the class had started to accommodate students' schedules and workloads. He teaches the class much like a high school class, which some students may not like. However, the fact that he takes the time to write notes on the board instead of just throwing up some powerpoint slides is a better method of teaching, in my opinion. It gives you time to absorb the material, rather than just scribbling down notes and trying to understand them later. By far one of the best teachers I've had so far. Great guy. Plus, his stories are amazing and keep class interesting.

Jul 2007

Dont take his class otherwise you'll age a lot faster than you ever thought you would. I stopped going to his class cause it was sooooo boring. There is no way you can stay awake through any of his classes. If you make it, be proud of it, though you will realize you learned nothing. He obviously knows a lot, but a great guy reduced to click a powerpoint and reading off the slides. Take his class if you dont want to go to class; you'll do fine just sitting in your room doing the practice exam before the night and ending up with an A- or an A in the class.

Apr 2007

I used to like chemistry. I took Chem AP in high school and did fine. I come here, all eager in my pre-medness and I get Sally Chapman. Oh boy. Let's start off with this. She has succeeded where no other professor has-She was able to put me to sleep EVERY lecture. Every single one. No joke. Second of all, her problem sets are ridiculous and she is of no help during office hours. Her exams are HARD. So many people dropped pre-med because of this class. This is an extremely challenging class and anyone taking chem for pre-med should just take it at Columbia...the curve is so much better and seriously, your GPA is what matters here so do yourself a favor and don't throw it away by taking Chapman's class.

Mar 2007

The thing about sciences at Columbia is that you just can't depend on the professor to teach you. These guys are brilliant research scientists, not lecturers. In this course you have to hit the book hard. But the more you practice and study, the better you will do on his tests. People who say that the questions are completely random have obviously not put in the time to deserve a good grade. I am by no means a science genius but I studied the book and the lecture notes and did fine.

Mar 2007

He is the typical sweet old guy who weaves throughout his lecture the cutest stories about his children and grandchildren. Otherwise, all the lecture content can be found on courseworks. The class is mostly computational so there is little he can do to make the lectures terribly interesting, so use your judgement when deciding when to attend or not.

Feb 2007

I was so excited when I was able to register for Turro's class. After reading past reviews, I breathed a deep sigh of relief, thankful that I had gotten into the class with the "easy professor". However, while I don't doubt that Turro used to be the easy professor, he no longer is. Tests are not straight from the practice exams like many people have said. They were usually quite different. Many questions were tricky and wordy and often times there were just blatant errors and inconsistencies in both the practice exams and the actual exams. His lectures were horrible and pointless to go to since he basically just read his powerpoints (which he posts online) out loud. The biggest problem with the course was that the notes and the exams seemed like they were structured around the last textbook they used in chem. Apparently, we were the first class to be using the new (blue and yellow) text book. This made certain questions on the test extremely difficult. Some of the questions touched on facts or concepts that were not emphasized as an important part of the chapter (and were probably more important in the previous text). For example, there would be questions about concepts that the textbook only briefly mentioned in a sentence or two and that anyone would have just overlooked. This is a huge problem since there are only 20-30 questions per test so each wrong answer will significantly drop your grade. Also, Turro doesn't curve. Many of the students, including myself, were very stressed by the end of the semester. Hopefully this course becomes more synchronized with the text by next semester. Otherwise, good luck! Also, both TAs were horrible!!!

Jan 2007

If Jeremiah's extensive knowledge and proficiency in Chemistry does not sweep you off your feet, his mysterious blue eyes will certainly do the trick... He is excellent at answering questions and a very fair grader. Weekly quizzes are not too difficult, but indeed you must have a brain and some concept of the subject matter in order to succeed in the class. I highly recommend the experience.

Jan 2007

Definitely a difficult class, but Chapman is a very good professor. She is absolutely knowledgeable about the subject and is extremely organized. She offers many office hours which are helpful, unless you're looking for her to solve the problem sets for you. During office hours she will answer any question as long as it does not directly solve the problem from the problem set of that week. Ignore the textbook (we used Chang this year); it's useless. For exams (which are definitely tough), go through every handout she gives, study your notes, and do many practice problems.

Jan 2007

Great professor.

Jan 2007

I have no idea why Turro gets such positive reviews. Are there really two Turros, and did I get the evil twin instead? The main thing you should get out of your mind is the idea that Turro is “easy.” He may have been in the past, but that’s no longer true. One major reason: HE NO LONGER CURVES, AND TO GET AN A IN HIS CLASS YOU NEED A 95 AVERAGE ON THE TESTS. That alone should be enough to scare away most people. But if it doesn’t, hear this: your ability to score highly on his tests has practically nothing to do with your knowledge of chemistry. In fact, studying chemistry will no nothing at all to improve your grade, and may even hurt it. So what’s wrong with this professor? 1. He’s a mediocre lecturer, at best. 2. He’s lazy and makes a lot of mistakes, which he often doesn’t bother to correct. 3. Although he thinks of himself as some sort of father figure to the students, he actually doesn’t care about them very much. **4. His tests. This was the #1 bone of contention of every student in the class. The problem isn’t that they are difficult [in which case studying would presumably help]. Rather, they’re so badly written that you will often be struggling to figure out what the questions mean. And this guy doesn’t seem to speak English (at least as defined by Webster’s dictionary). So if you rely on the standard meaning of words and phrases to interpret his questions, you will usually get them wrong. The only thing that works is studying Turro’s old tests to get an idea of what questions he might ask, and what HE thinks the right answers are. And since his midterms only have 25 questions, if you blow just one question, there goes your chance of an A. (Remember, in this guy’s world an A is a 95, although he didn’t actually tell us that until the end of the semester). There was practically an armed revolt in the class after the third midterm. The class average had been 80 on the first test and 84 on the second, but on the third it went down to 72. No, we didn’t get stupider, his test was riddled with flawed questions. He ended up retracting 3 of them, but there were at least a couple of others that should have been changed. The uproar must have made an impression on him, because the final was much more reasonable, but the damage was already done from those lousy midterms (60% of the grade). Bottom line, you MAY learn some chemistry in this class. But be warned: your grade might as well have come from a random number generator.

Jan 2007

Professor Leonard likes to talk about history a lot. Being an old research professor can you really blame him for relating the history he lived through with chemistry that much? That being said, Fine does a great job at creating informative and concise powerpoint presentations. What Fine does not do a good job at is keeping his lectures engaging. He drowns you to sleep with his monotonous voice and you are ultimately unable to absorb much chemistry. The average student then does not learn much because they are asleep whenever he says anything important. Several questions on his tests (1-3/20) are directly from lectures and demonstrations. The others questions are derived almost exactly from the homework questions he gives out. Average test grades are like 13/20, and he curves a 13/20 to a B or B+! If you learn how to do the homework questions and get a gist of the in class demonstrations you would be satisfied with your grade. The curve is phenomenal.

Jan 2007

I highly recommend Friesner if you plan to go to class and read the textbook. If you do both these things seriously, there is no reason not to get an A. He puts his notes on the blackboard....copy these down WORD FOR WORD, because a couple questions on each test come from these notes. Some say that the only class you need to attend is right before the exam, where he gives a great overview of what he'll be testing. This is good enough to get a solid B (assuming you do the textbook problems). Going to every class gives you the A.

Jan 2007

Professor Fine is a man who clearly understands the material; however, he is completely incapable of explaining it in his lectures. The lectures are pointless and confusing at times because he is always two steps ahead and then backtracks. I found his tests to be more of an example of what he knows and taking joy in showing the students just how smart he is. For those of us who are pre-med and really want to understand the material, he just doesn't care. He is the perfect professor to weed out the weak, but he tortures those who want to learn in the process. Overall, one of the worst professors I have ever taken at any institution. Brilliant man incapable of teaching or reaching out to his students.

Jan 2007

Perhaps Fine should be replaced by a monkey, or that homeless guy that sells stolen posters from the subway outside of Pinnacle...they would at least entertain the students while they were not learning anything in class. I made some recommendations in the midterm evaluation, but they, along with the recommendations of my classmates seemed to be ignored, and even mocked by Fine, who reminds me of a turtle.

Jan 2007

Dan "The Man" MacDougal was an awesome TA, what he taught me in recitation far surpassed anything that I gained from going to class. Dan The Man was very effective in teaching complex concepts by putting them into laymanÂ’s terms that I could understand, I would pray to God that you get Dan as your TA.

Dec 2006

he is an awesome teacher. he is very interesting lecturer and does magic tricks to keep it interesting and entertaining. his test came mostly from the practice questions. like exact questions. NO HOMEWORK. only practice questions in the book to prepare for the test, but can do well without doing them. only do them if having a problem with a topic. do whatever you can to take this class!!!

Dec 2006

Knows all the answers to any question you may throw at him, explains things with diagrams and step-by-step. He writes the chapter quizzes for Fine's lectures and sends out emails about which sections of the chapter to focus on. Quizzes are given at the beginning of class (roughly every two weeks) and are reviewed right after. When we are not taking quizzes, he covers main ideas. Generally a good TA.

Dec 2006

Easy-going professor, uploads all his lectures onto Courseworks within the week. He tends to ramble about historical events, famous chemists and current events, which are interesting if you don't mind not learning. Overall attendance is not necessary, although he does at least one demo per class - some of them are really cool and worth the trip. Kind of a pointless course unless required for your major. Take a fun science course if it's just for the Core.

Dec 2006

First of all, let me warn you: this is an extremely hard and demanding class, and you're going to end up hating the professor. The problem sets were hard and took up too much time- Chapman seems unable to comprehend that we have OTHER classes besides Chem. It's impossible to complete the problem sets without help, and during office hours, Chapman doesn't even answer questions directly (ugh). I heard about other students taking Chem at Columbia...and I wish I did too. The lab wasn't bad- it was possible to do very well BUT some of the lab write-ups took me 3+ HOURS. The exams: the first one wasn't bad, so the grading was extremely HARSH. The second one was a KILLER- the practice exam had absolutely NOTHING to do with the second exam, and so it turned out that the majority of the class failed- thus, the grading was very lenient. The final--another KILLER. There was no practice exam posted so I had no idea what the heck to study for in particular. The grading was too harsh for the final. The powerpoints and lectures were pretty useless, in my opinion. She is a very organized lecturer but I think the book was better. But then let me add that the book was absolutely USELESS. USELESS! I paid a lot of money for a useless book. The only thing that I would recommend purchasing is the study workbook that correlates with the text. My summary of this course: an extremely challenging class that will DEFINITELY bring down your GPA. It would be a lot better if the professor learned how to prepare the students for the exams better--I'd recommend that prospective students for this class should ask about Columbia's chem class if they want to save their GPA and also avoid a horrible professor.

Dec 2006

Everyone fights over getting into this class because they hear the class is easy. However, go to the class mid- semester and there are only about 40 people in that huge lecture hall. This is because Turro relies almost exclusively on disorganized powerpoint lectures, which he reads too quickly (and quietly) for you to understand anyway. And if you don't understand and want to, you probably shouldn't ask him questions. Because he'll tell you to email the TA's or his assistant or some other grad students, pretty much anyone but himself. Its not as easy as everyone says; the average was around 80 throughout which sounds high, but considering how much of the problems are regurgitated from the practices tests....the practice tests, by the way, often contain errors. so he'll send you emails for each correction. sometimes you'll get 5 emails. in one afternoon.

Nov 2006

Ged is a great teacher, no questions about it. Had to take a painful 9:10am course but he is lively enough to make it worth going to class. For the first 6 weeks or so he had a magic trick to do every class which corresponded in some zany way to the lecture. Very approachable and likes class interaction. Posts all his lectures online but still worth it to go to class as he stresses certain things more than others (which are then on the quizes). I think this was the 1st time he had taught the class though and he didnt have a feel for how fast he had to go to cover X amount of material in X amount of time so at times we went painfully slow (the 2nd midterm was supposed to have 3 chapters on it, only had 1). Overall: good chemistry teacher, would take him again in a heartbeat.

Sep 2006

I thought the class was pretty great. Turro's voice was a bit too soft at times but the lectures were on powerpoints so that wasn't a problem. The powerpoints were really helpful and because they were online you can skip a couple classes. Actually, I can't praise the powerpoints enough, they were very thorough and really helped explain the textbook. And his midterms are strictly based on the concepts on the powerpoints. if not for the recitation quizzes, the textbook is almost unnecessary for this semester of chem.

Aug 2006

I don't have much to add except to tell you future students that what other reviewers said about the midterms and final is absolutely true: the midterms are mostly from the practice tests and the final is almost completely original. It's not material you haven't seen before, but you can't breeze through it like you can the midterms (I finished one in 20 minutes with a 24/25). Learn the material well for the final! Despite the warnings on CUPLA, the final was a little more difficult than I expected. The killer part of the class is the recitation quizzes. These are written by the TAs, so try to get a good one. I blew an easy A because I didn't prepare enough for the quizzes and final. Turro is a good teacher. He sounds like Coach Z, which is entertaining sometimes.

May 2006

This is painful to write because I think Professor Flynn is an incredibly kind man who truly cares about his students. However, I must say that his class was simply incomprehensible, and at times baffling. I am normally a good student and I found it beyond challenging to follow his powerpoint slides. Simple equations such as the Gibbs Free Energy equation become complex calculations that consume 75% of the class time. Paying $1000 per credit, missing a class was inconceivable to me, until this class. I couldn't sit through his endless calculations anymore, as much as I enjoyed his occassional pauses to tell us a cute story between him and his wife. Don't get me wrong. Flynn is a great guy. Very likeable. Extremely approachable. But he should not be teaching general chemistry, because he turns it into the Mathematics of Chemistry.

May 2006

She is very organized and doesn't really take nonsense. If you're having a hard time, she's pretty easy to talk to and willing to help you... if she likes you. Stay on top of problem sets and keep up with the material or you'll be sure to drown.

Mar 2006

Horrible professor! Horrible class! Granted, most 1st semester chemistry classes suck but he is particularly bad. He enjoys teaching random material in his lectures which are boring. He seems to want to screw you over - the exams are not book based they're based on hislectures. Which is what I read on culpa about him before taking the class. I figured - not so bad. However, his questions are deliberate trick questions. The stuff he pulls from his lectures is not what any normal person would focus on. The extra credit project was a real savior and my TA was great but AVOID Fine!

Mar 2006

Really good TA (especially for Fine's class) she's been Ta-ing for past couple of years so she knows good general tips. She's very accomodating and willing to help everyone out.

Feb 2006

He was the worst TA I've ever had. I already knew all the material and his explanations just made me confused. He was also extremely condescending. The worst part was that we had 8 quizzes and he was a lazy jerk and did not grade/submit the last three quiz grades, he refused to answer emails relating this problem and is generally a terrible human being and should never have been hired.

Jan 2006

Jeremiah wasn't happy about being a Chem I TA and he let it show throughout the course. Each week, he simply administered quizzes, with a begrudging "Any questions? No, okay great." On the occasions when he deigned to answer questions, he was condescending, but competent. He wasn't very timely with email responses or posting if there was a quiz during a particular week.

Jan 2006

Jenny Baxter is an excellent TA. All of the material that she covered in recitation and quizzes was very helpful when preparing for midterms and finals. The quizzes themselves are fairly easy and straightforward and should boost most students' grades. Her short lectures in recitation mainly covered how to do practice problems. While many students didn't think these lectures were worth their time, I found them very helpful. This said, many of the weekly quizzes are online so attendance is optional (though recommended). Jenny Baxter is knowledgeable about chemistry and is especially good at choosing which topics to focus the short recitation on. She answers any questions asked and is genuinely concerned and helpful. This is a major plus since she will probably teach you more than friesner does. Overall, while the other TA for Friesner's class (Madhav) seems equally good, no one could go wrong by choosing a recitation with Jenny Baxter.

Jan 2006

Prof. Fine's lectures are boring. Almost every lecture is supplemented by an experiment, which often re-appear on the tests in some form. Many of his power-point lectures contain tangental information to what the book considers important for that section. Overall, nice guy but boring lecture.

Jan 2006

Even as I write this, I'm not quite sure how to describe Stacey's class- but I will try. All in all, Stacey Brydges isn't a very good lecturer. Sometimes I found myself wondering if she even knew what she was talking about. It was hard to tell because she basically read her lecture slides word for word. Don't get me wrong, she would pause every so often to provide some nugget of information, but overall the class was being read to. The ONLY times Stacey would stray from powerpoint were during her review sessions (and there were plenty of them). During these reviews, Stacey would break out the chalk and teach beautifully. I wish she would have taught the whole semester with chalk in hand- I learned more from her during her reviews than during actual class time. A word about her exams... Extremely Difficult! No exaggeration. Be prepared to study for hours and hours and hours. Take a break and then study some more because her exams (especially the multiple choice) tested every little bit of information about the subjects she taught. After many an exam I felt as though I had been mentally raped. Needless to say the mean on the first exam was in the low 40s.. the second in the 50s and the third exam in the low 60s. Stacey tried to keep the mood upbeat by asking us to resubmit our exams with corrections for extra credit.. write a "mock exam question" for extra credit...with all this extra credit I would have thought the whole class would have gotten an A. But you know what? The extra credit really didn't help your grade much, if at all. I think it was just Dr. Brydges' way of getting us to learn the material. So, would I take the class again? As I sit here writing this review I can honestly say that I really don't know if I would. Part of me says yes and part of me says no way. My advice is to sit in on her lecture the first day or two and see if you like what you see. Who knows, maybe she'll be teaching with chalk, dazzling her students, instead of reciting lecture notes.

Jan 2006

So, a lot of people are critical of Leonard Fine. I would be too if I did not have a background in chemistry before college. The fact is, if you know chemistry in high school, his curve will become your best friend. You can beat the average and easily get an A. He gives 40% A's! So the curve is AMAZING. You do not get this kind of cushioning with the other chem professors. If you do not know chem, stay away.

Jan 2006

I am writing this review to try to debunk some of the unfairly horrible reviews of Professor Fine. As a premed student who had no choice but to take Fine's Gen Chem section due to scheduling reasons, I was very worried about taking this class due to all the negative reviews. One thing people often complain about is how Fine is a poor lecturer. While it is true that he is rather boring (but this is probably true of a lot of chem classes), his lectures are not nearly as nonsensical and off-topic as others make it seem. He does teach some topics that aren't in the syllabus but they do not require much studying and for those of us who have any real interest in science, they are pretty interesting subjects. Another thing people often criticize are Prof. Fine's exams. Overall, the exams are very fair even though there are some poorly written questions. However, each exam has several extra credit questions so the exam grades turn out pretty well (plus there is a curve). Basically, I ended this class with an A+ not having done too much work and I learned a great deal of chemistry. So if you are like me and forced to take Fine's class, it is not the end of the world. Fine is a kind person and I can't understand why people rate him so terribly.

Dec 2005

Friesner is a decent professor, definetly better than the other two. His classes are not the most exciting, but he tells you exactly what you have to know, especially the day before the test he has a "review" day where he basically puts an outline on the board of what is on the test, and basically every topic on the test is covered in his outline. (his tests are fairly easy, but you have to actually read the textbook once cause his notes don't always cover the topics completely). Overall, Friesner is a very fair professor and I would recommend his class.

Dec 2005

This class is definitely doable. I read all of the horrible reviews at the beginning of the year and was really scared to take this class, but it's really not so bad. Fine is a really nice man and really goes out of his way to make lectures interesting. Believe me - by the end of the semester you'll be so grateful that he does demos - they really wake you up! And they're interesting to watch. His tests are also not too bad. He doesn't put a lot of math-related stuff on the test, and he posts old tests online (I found those really helpful). He usually puts on a couple of questions from old tests and maybe 1 or 2 from lecture notes or the textbook. Overall, its not too bad. But then there are a couple of random questions that he always sticks in that you either guess correctly or incorrectly on. However, if you have good guessing skills, and a good TA, you should do fine. If you study, you shouldn't get below a B in this class.

Dec 2005

I took this class to fulfill my CC science requirement (which was not the greatest idea in the first place). I learned more from my TA in section every week than I did from Friesner's lectures. Lectures were not very instructive nor engaging. The main thing I disliked about the course was that he made it pretty obvious that he did not want to be there, and even through e-mail, he was not very friendly. I did not attend his office hours, though, and that may have made a difference. He was, however, good with always taking the last lecture before a midterm to review basic concepts and go over what one needed to know for the test, which I found very valuable.

Dec 2005

Ok, so here's the whole truth - read it all if you really wanna take this class with him.. if you dont like chemistry and you sit way up in the auditorium, i guaranty you'll fall a sleep. this is not a way to study chemistry. even more so, the sound is so bad (especially with the mic.) that you cant understand a word! if you want to get something out of this class and not waste your time (and money), sit in the front and take notes! the best way is to print his lectures before hand (he post it a day before) and write on the printed version. another helpful tip is to go over the lecture slides BEFORE class! this way, you have SOME idea of what he's talking about and so the lecture will go much faster! yes. it is true - ALL his exams (INDLUCING THE FINAL which i took yesterday) are taken from his practice exams. HOWEVER! dont fool yourself. these questions account for only 80 - 85% of the exam. so if you want to get an A- or an A, you need to put a little bit more effort. nothing more. so lets say you have 30 questions in the exam (all are multiple choice by the way ), you will have 5-6 "new" questions you have never seen before. DONT WORRY - these are not brain-surgery questions. if you understand the answers for the practice exams, there is no reason why you should not be able to solve these ones. (those of you who never took chemistry before might have to work a bit harder to get it... ) The exams are REALLY FAIR!!! its stuff you're suppose to know from the lecture slides and the book. (oh yeah - the textbook is HORRIBLE!!! i had to refer to other text books.. its really impossible to understand it!!)... So yeah, he wants you to succeed, but its all up to how much effort you are willing to put in. if you're good with a B, you dont need to do much just to memorize the practice exams. MAJOR MAJOR THING - YOU HAVE TO GET A GOOD T.A~!!! mine was the easier one of the two and THAT made a huge (!!) difference! you have 8 quizzes out of which 5 best are counted. (this means you have a quiz EVERY WEEK except weeks where you have the exams). so get a GOOD T.A - it really makes the difference, and GO TO THEIR OFFICE HOURS! crucial!! regarding H.W.... well, its kind of a way for you to test yourself and see if you got it. no question from H.W is given in the exam, but if you can solve them you're good for the test. the H.W for the last chapters (24,25) are really challenging and you dont really have to know them all.. i cant tell if Turro is better than any other prof. cuz i havent taken anyone else.. yet... but his lectures are NOT THAT BORING!! i actually found him HILLARIOUS! if you listen to the lecture you will catch up some of his REALLY FUNNY remarks... and the class experiments were REALLY COOL! I personally hated (!!!!!) chemistry before i took this class... now im fascinated by it. the bottom line is that its all about your attitude. So if you realize that there is no way out, and you come with a positive attitude, not only will you learn something and get a good grade, but you will also enjoy the class.

Dec 2005

I found this class to be intensely frustrating in that the lectures often covered tangential material that could not be found anywhere in the textbook but which we were supposed to know for the exams. His tests often feature arbitrary questions and you could learn the material better if you taught yourself from the book than if you attended the lectures.

Dec 2005

Overall not too bad. I took the course to fulfill a requirement, and its mostly straight out of the book. I went to most lectures where he put notes from the book on the board and did not look at the class when facing it. He had office hours each week that may have been helpful if I went. The recitations were helpful in understanding the hard concepts. Overall this guy might be better than the others.

Nov 2005

Overall, this course is not terrible. Fine does an excellent job in explaining the basics of chemical theory and while he may tend to digress from actual chemistry, his random facts of nobel prize winners, etc. gives you time to either go over the notes, think about your other work, or most likely catch a few minutes of in-class sleep. Still, Fine knows his material and is especially clear on certain topics such as quantum theory and hybridization. I know many people who don't attend his lectures, simply based on the fact that they believe they can do equally fine by reading the textbook... this is true; however, his lectures do give hints as to what may be on the upcoming exam, especially at the end when he does demonstrations. The class itself is primarily a theory based class for chemistry - atomic theory, basic chemical calculations, quantum theory, orbitals, structure, etc. If you read the book, do the homework, do the extra problems for practice, and luck out with a good TA (if not, I suggest Kathleen Kristian), you'll be more than prepared.

Sep 2005

stacey was ok. it was her first semester teaching, and she had some grant business to take care of spring semester, so she often seemed tired, uneven, and unprepared. she would also get all flustered when something went wrong, which was painful to watch. she never posted stuff on time in the spring, although she was a lot better in the fall, so i attribute that to the grant nonsense. but still that's no excuse. generally, though, i agree more with the 4 positive reviews submitted so far than the negative one. i sat in on a few leonard fine classes, and though he was (expectedly) much more confident, i can't say i would have left that class with a stronger grasp of gen chem... half extremely complex, half totally watered down, it's a hard subject to teach. also stacey really seemed to care how everyone did. to an extent that was kind of weird, actually. all these extra credit opportunities and stuff. her tests were very hard. they really forced you to study carefully--they werent about regurgitation. i got the idea that a lot of people came in expecting plug n' chug tests, and werent prepared to have to think under pressure. in sum, her lectures definitely needed work: on their own they were nearly useless. but the few times i read ahead, as i guess you are supposed to do, they actually weren't that bad, especially for a "rookie" prof.

Aug 2005

For the past 2 semesters plus now I've been completely mystified by what alternate universe these other reviewers are occupying. Let me just say, I got a really good grade in this class. It almost worked. She almost had me. But you know what, the truth must be known. This class sucked. It sucked BIG TIME. Prof. Brydges was at best well intentioned, but frankly sometimes it seemed like she was on the verge of some kind of nervous breakdown. She alternated frantic cutsy-ness with snarling defensiveness which made her, frankly, creepy. Here are a few specifics about the class: - She could never post any lecture notes, practice exams, sample solutions on time in any kind of timely fashion. - Her lectures were horrible. HORRIBLE. She insisted on reinventing the wheel by making all of her own slides. It was like riding a dumptruck cross country. She scooted through her typo ridden powerpoint presentations and all I really remember is that little red laser pointer dot darting round and round on the screen, afraid to land on any littl bit of content. - Her typical response to a student question: "let's throw that back out there..." She would never say when something was outside the scope of what we needed to know. Instead she would get lost on long stammering tangents that ended with something along the lines of 'go home and look it up'.

Apr 2005

Professor Fine was a great teacher. I personally thought his lectures were very interesting although it was annoying how he kept talking about how great Columbia is. Just pay attention in lecture and do all the work and you’ll do well in the class. After bombing the first midterm I realized I missed a lot of questions which were related to the lectures and got my act together. If you take notes in class and read the lecture slides you’ll be fine. Copy down every single thing he writes on the board no matter how trivial it seems. There were definitely some tricky questions on his exams but most of them were easy, you’ll find yourself finishing the test 30mins early and going back to the hard ones to check for mistakes. I ended up with a final average of 97 so don’t believe the others who say the tests are hard. All I did differently on the following exams was to concentrate more on my class notes and lecture slides. It also doesn’t hurt to redo assigned problems the night before. People who sleep in class do poorly on the test because they miss the easy lecture related questions which is why there are so many bitter reviews. In response to the reviewers who complained about his “extra” material such as IR radiation, people taking Chemistry Lab first term needed to understand that for the spectroscopy experiment so he was doing us a favor. The Chemistry Lab TA’s expect you to learn everything on your own. I am also glad I had Fine because I was well prepared for Physics II Lab while others had no idea what was going on for the photoelectric and radiation labs. If you have a curiosity for science then take Professor Fine. He will do a lot of fun experiments and teach you interesting facts which you will not learn anywhere else. For those of you that don’t give a damn just take Turro. You’ll get extremely boring lectures (which you will probably cut) and easy tests. I have sat in on one of his lectures and believe me that was a painful experience.

Feb 2005

easiest professor in the world...midterms are exactly like the practice exams so just memorize those. (dont even need to read the book). but itll catch up to you in the final, where you have to actually know the material. i pretty much skimmed the chapters and memorized the practice exam...ended up with an A+....so if you take turro, no need to stress and haved a kick back semester. its a self studying class...n get a good TA....i crasehd kathleen's section although she wasnt my TA cuz mine sucked.... for those who said this class is hard...i dunno wat to say becuz i think this is by far the easiest class you will encounter if you are premd (as i am)...if you cant pull an A in this class, mebbe you should rethink the whole medical school thing i do recommend him becuz he is easy, but for those who thrive on structured and well organized courses, maybe this is not for you. and if you want to actually learn something, mebbe go with mcdermott.

Jan 2005

A really good class to take if you have had some background in chemsitry and can learn from the book on your own. The lectures are not very helpful and most people don't bother going to class after the first few ( I went to almost all and it really did not vastly improve my understanding...but a one or two things that come up on exams are only heard in class...and the TAs base the quizes on the lecture material). The class is wonderful because the exams are relatively easy and you are able to drop one exam equivalent at the end of the term. Most of the exam questions come from homework and practice exams that she posts on courseworks. The prof is really nice, speaks clearly, and often stops to take questions. She relies on e-mail to commuicate with her students, as so few attend class. I would definately recommend the class.

Jan 2005

Professor McDermott is a very nice person. I think she really loves chemistry and loves sharing it with her students. Her lectures are all on powerpoint and so some people think that they do not need to go to all the lectures. Her class was somewhat boring but i never thought it was hard. Overall I liked her class, i herd she was the better choice of the 3 professors for the first semester

Jan 2005

In short, if you must take general chemistry, do NOT if at all possible opt for Professor Fine's class. This is all you really need to know, but for some details: 1) The lectures are absolutely useless. Fine spends most of class substituting infantile Powerpoint slides for actual teaching. The only things that are ever somewhat worth looking at on those slides are the occasional definition of some experiment or some term that might not be explicitly mentioned in the textbook. Many of the slides - and therefore the content of the lectures - consist of cartoons lacking comprehensible explanations or pictures of famous chemists who graduated from Columbia. Obviously, neither of those is in any way helpful to understanding anything relevant to the class. Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words, but when you stare at a large drawing of a microwave oven with no context and no functional description, that picture is worth absolutely nothing. The lab demonstrations are sometimes interesting but also aren't very helpful. 2) The textbook and (not required, but helpful) homework is all right. I find the textbook to be decent enough so that Fine's "lectures" become irrelevant. The homework and the recitation sections are FAR more educational than class is; if you're interested in chemistry, thoroughly read the book and then ask your TA to clarify or expand on whatever is in there. 3) The tests are, well, laughable. Not because they're easy, not because they're hard, but because they are nonsensical. Half-or-so of each test is doable, but then there are the obligatory questions with way-too-long introductions that are totally irrelevant to the question. There are also the horribly irritating ones about what color things are when they react with other things. In addition, these questions are always wonderful to see on an exam: Answers: a) thing 1, thing 1 b) thing 1, thing 2 c) thing 2, thing 1 d) thing 2, thing 2 Bah. But that's life, I suppose. The bottom line is that this class with this professor is simply not good. You're at Columbia; you deserve better. Do yourself a favor and pick a different section. Oh, and for the record: the one class we had with Professor Turro was unfathomably more intelligible than any of Fine's lectures. So it's not the class; it's Fine.

Jan 2005

If your going to take Chem 1403, take it with McDermott. It is obvious she cares and she is very approachable. There is no reason to go to class, however as she doesn't teach you what you need to know. Yes, her lectures are related to the topics, but your time will be better spent digesting the text. Trust me, I went to every lecture because I was afraid I would miss something if I didn't. Her lectures were useless. Learn the textbook, learn how to do the homework problems, learn how to do the problems from the practice exams she posts and you can get an A. I did, and I had a useless TA for recitation. But don't waste your time in class!

Jan 2005

this guy is super easy, only tests the concepts, and repeats the questions from the practice tests on all of the exams... you get to drop your lowest exam grade even if it is the grade obtained by adding up your highest 5 of 8 quizzes given in the rec sessions... he is a good teacher though and he just wants to giv eyou a good basis... its basically high shcool chem in a semester, but not even that difficult... all of the questions on the exams are multiple choice and easy... the lectures arent super fun but they are sometimes interesting and provide information that helps you figure out what you read in the text book..... good luck-- turro is easy. fine is hard. and even though fine requires you to learn more, (my roomate had him), i still think the turro kids learn more because they actually know the basic concepts of chemistry rather than only understanding fractions of complex concepts....

Dec 2004

It seems to me that a lot of these reviews are written by bitter students. I personally found the lectures interesting - Fine is always using demonstrations and experiments to help reinforce the concepts. I agree that the his lecture slides can be a bit disorganized, but what I like is that this class challenges you. If you keep up with the material and understand how to do his "More Problems", you will do fine on the exams. You don't need perfect scores on them to get an A in the class. The class average on the exams was around 70% which after the curve was about a B. All in all, the curve makes up for the difficulty level of this course. You also have plenty of opportunities to pick up bonus points during the semester.

Dec 2004

In my opinion, a useless man, but you'll realize that pretty quickly. Tests have no relation to the chapters, or the practice tests, or the lectures, which leaves you to fumble onwards on your own. I went to most of the classes and recitations (where my TA tried to teach everything that Fine didn't - try to get a good TA for recitation and you're in better shape), did some of the homework, and got a B. You can probably due well in his class if you figure out exactly what he wants you to know, but given that Fine probably doesn't even know that you'll probably better off taking someone else. Truly, an embarassment to the department, to Columbia, and to the whole tenure system in general.

Dec 2004

Lectures are a little out there but necessary as he likes to put in-lecture experiments on the test. His reviews before each midterm and the final are very beneficial. Lectures are actually pretty interesting if you are into history of chemistry and more conceptual information. Do the practice tests he posts, look over the slides, and make SURE to actually READ the chapters. Good curve. Make sure to do well on the recitation quizzes as they count as much as a midterm when averaged together.

Dec 2004

Professor Doerrer knows everybody's name and she is very prompt with returning material andresponding to emails. She is a great professor and made a difficult class enjoyable. Labs were easy, the lab book spoon fed everything to you as if you were a little baby. The class is demanding, but with hard work it is possible! The lab instructors were great and the labs are fun, especially the quantitative chemistry portion.

Dec 2004

Though I feel guilty writing a bad review for Fine since he is a nice man and clearly tries hard, I have to do it. I have to warn you about how bad this class is. I stupidly disregarded other negative CULPA reviews and thought that the reviewers were just people who got bad grades and had bad attitudes. I got an A+ (normally a brag, but this is an anonymous review, so give me a break.) but I hated every minute of this class, and I am pissed I had to go through it. Don't make my mistake! Listen to these people! In my review I will try to outline what makes FIne's class so horrible. I will also give tips on how you can succeed in his class in spite of how horrible it is. Chemistry should be a completely straight-forward science class: text book, lectures that explain the text book, and tests and quizzes on the text book. While this would normally constitue 100% of any Columbia science class, it constitutes only about 80% of Fine's class. The other 20% is stuff Fine just decides to talk about in lecture-- stupid bullshit that nobody cares about, e.g. lightbulbs, sunscreen, air pollution. Fine usually goes through this extra stuff very quickly in his lectures, only explaining it superficially. Don't try to teach it to yourself later on. His power point slides are useless. USELESS. Believe me. But you can't ignore the extra shit either, because he always asks questions about it on exams. He also made us spend time using this shitty software to try to understand Infra Red light and molecule vibrations. It was a boring, a complete waste of time, but again, there were questions about the software on the exams. You will probably prefer to study chemistry with someone who doesn't subject you to that kind of bullshit. Chemistry is hard enough as is. The other criticisms of Fine already listed in other reviews are completely accurate. His lectures are disorganized. No one seemed to mention that Fine is soft-spoken and never turns up the microphone. His demos are usually fun to watch, but hard to follow (and again, he WILL ask you questions about them on the midterm, so you have to take detailed notes on the demos and memorize these details for the exams. If you don't get the demos, go see him in office hours, or you're fucked.) The good thing about Fine: he does care about teaching. He will always hold review sessions before the finals. Go to those review sessions. It will really help you anticipate what he will test you on. He will also upload past exams on courseworks. Sometimes they are helpful, sometimes they are misleading. Still, you have to do them to cover your ass. So, if you want to do well in this class, basically you have to be responsible for knowing and understanding anything and everything that Fine mentions. It's a real ballbuster. The reviewer who said that he had to teach himself a lot of the material through Google got it exactly right. I did the same thing. When you have to actually go outside the class materials to learn what Fine is supposedly teaching you, you know you picked the wrong Chem section.

Dec 2004

I'm reviewing Michael because I feel the prior review is unduly harsh. Michael was a tad irreverent, lax and chatty with the class. Not my style. He was, I believe, an engineering grad student and his expertise in chemistry was a tad shallow, but it's not HIS fault he was asked to TA a chemistry class. His quizzes were very straightforward and I thought they were largely fair. He didn't seem to put a whole ton of effort into the class but that's par for most TA's. Michael's an extremely laidback guy who cuts up with the students a lot. I worked hard and was treated fairly. No complaints.

Dec 2004

in my opinion, he is boring, incomprehensible and unorganized. for example, he would send out practice exams and it would contain 5 errors, then he would send out another copy, and this one would have errors in it too....besically, i had to go to office hours of TAs to clarify a lot of the "broken" questions. his lecture does not help you at all. consider this to be a self studying class. when you goto lecture, you will only understand what he is saying if you already know that chapter. otherwise, obscure and difficult. for me, i crashed extra recitation in order to grasp concepts that were vague in the textbook. midterms are very very very easy, but the final is not as easy. although i havent got my grade yet, i believe this class is one of the easiest. compare to fine, people in my class had a vacation while fine students suffered. and this rumor about the FINAL being impossible....nonsense. it wasnt hard. it was just harder than midterms because it actually had some questions you had to think(rather than spit back what you memorized in practice exams) all in all, i recommend Turro for the pure lack of good alternatives, and the ridiculously easy tests. (he gave us everything we asked for on test, for example, all the functional groups, amino acids, IR and NMR spectra...basically we didnt need to memorize ANYTHING) in terms of no curve for grading, it doesnt matter because you get to drop 1 of the following (a midterm, half of final, or top 5 quiz scores) . i ended up sropping final becuase i had 98% with everything else. again, a piece of cake. if you want an easy semester, take him.

Dec 2004

Stacy is nice. Stacy is from Canada. Stacy also gives the longest exams in the entire university. The final took most people the full 3 hours and then some. But Stacy is your friend and she genuinely wants you to do well and for that I truly love her. Stacy's lectures are a rehashing and elucidation of the textbook and are not the tangential rantings of some professors in this department. Going to lecture is definitely helpful, though as the prior reviewer said the evening class time makes it a drowsy affair. Stacy comes off like an elementary school teacher, but for an intro level course that many of us are taking because it's required for our majors, that's not so bad. She doesn't assume that you want to be a chem major, and she definitely teaches you what you need to know. Also the TA, Robert, is quite brilliant. The downside of Stacy's class is that you really are better off attending. She covers stuff in lecture that is not in the book, or that is explained poorly in the book; so if you want a class in which you can do everything on your own and just show up for tests it’s probably best to look elsewhere. Stacy did opt for weekly problem sets rather than quizzes, which I for one was not happy about. The quizzes (we had two before she switched) were really easy and the problem sets were pretty hard and took a lot more time. But they did force you to learn the material, and only the best 5 out of 9 counted toward the grade, so in the end they’re like medicine—taste bad but good for ya. It’s not exactly that intense Ivy League experience, but I really didn't want to take chem to begin with so I've got no complaints.

Dec 2004

Professor McDermott truely cares about her students. She's relatively organized in that courseworks is used and usually up to date. Exam grading did take a LONG time, considering they were multiple choice. Her lectures don't always focus on what you'll be tested on, but if you go and pay attention, you'll have a leg up for the final where she draws from lectures for her questions. The other midterms are virtually (at least 95%) directly from the sample exams/old exams that she publishes. It's possible to do no reading, not go to class, but know the sample questions inside and out and get virtually perfect scores on the exams. 10 bonus points are available during the term. Most are easy to earn and you'd be stupid if you didn't take advantage of them. Text book is reasonable and while her lectures help clarrify the text book, towards the last third of the term the lectures seem to come directly from the text. All in all, I would highly recommend this prof. I'd make the extra effort to go to class and get to know her. It will help you, I promise. She understands this is a first semester collegiate course for many in the class and does everything she can to help those who put a viewable effort in. She offeres homework sessions for those who want extra help or just want to work thru problems with others. She goes beyond what other profs who teach this course do to help. But, be warned...... If you don't want to learn the material, it's fairly easy to slide by without learning it. That will only be detrimental if you move on to Chem II and/or Orgo, so do the work and learn it.

Dec 2004

A pretty straightforward professor. Her lectures were helpful, sometimes even better than the textbook for learning the content. Instead of weekly quizzes, she assigns weekly problem sets, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you work (I hate memorizing/studying for quizzes, so I prefer the p sets). The exams tested what was in her lectures. Also, she was often available for help and encouraged emails/phone calls. The only downside to her class was the time (610-725), which often put me to sleep.

Dec 2004

There's no point in going to lectures. I went to 3 all semester and at each one, top attendance had to be 30 students out of a lecture of 150. Fine just can't teach, and there's no way around it. Read the textbook...outline it. His lectures consist of power points that don't really teach the material very well. He likes to drill the things that are really obvious and gloss over harder parts of the material. In all honesty though, if you can't switch out of the class, don't worry. Everybody does poorly on the tests so the curve helps a lot. If you can avoid him, take Turro or McDermott...you might be slightly more engaged.

Dec 2004

What can be said about Leonard Fine that hasn't already been said? For the most part, he seems to frustrate his students with his lectures and demonstrations which are often vague, confusing, and random. The class just doesn't seem to follow a set path and sometimes it's hard to even know what it is that you're studying. In fairness, Fine has some redeeming qualities though. Of my first year teachers, he seemed to make the most effort into teaching. He clearly cares about what he's doing, and he's a nice guy, and can sometimes be interesting. But as a lecturer, he falls short.

Dec 2004

Really boring class. Fine actually knows how to teach, though, and he does his absolute best to make it interesting. He just can't. He really tries, though - there are a lot of demos, some pretty cool. Every lecture he mentions another Columbia graduate who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry after studying in the very same room he's now teaching in. You have to learn a ton of information. If you read along in the book you'll be OK - if you don't read or do any of the (optional) homework, you'll be about average. Hope you get a good TA who will re-teach everything every week. That is the only thing that will help you, since you'll fall asleep in lecture. It is really hard to make chemistry interesting, as demonstrated well by Fine.

Dec 2004

Professor Leonard Fine, where can we start? Professor Fine started the year with an introduction to what we would learn in chemistry and even though CULPA told me he was boring (or that's what I remember CULPA telling me) I thought the opposite from that first lecture. I said "Hey, this can't be so bad." The second lecture he taught a little bit and had a cool exploding experiment and it seemed ok. The third and fourth lectures, the last two I ever attended, he taught nothing and I fell asleep on that uncozy piece of wood they call a "desk". To be correct, Prof. Fine taught stuff yes, but what that stuff is has nothing, and I cannot stress the meaning of NOTHING, to do with the respective chapters in the book. Let's just say that stuff was never mentioned again. A lecture is 75 minutes long and could be a very productive and enlightening lecture. 75 minutes are wasted instead if you decide to attend these lectures. I learned more studying on my own while watching TV for five hours than attending all four of those lectures - I was stuck on the same page in the book for those five hours. Now, TA sessions do make up for what Fine decided not to teach aka the stuff you actually need to know. You only have 50 minutes a session and meet only once a week. 150 minutes of lectures a week is all crammed into 50 minutes a week of TA sessions thus you will never learn every single thing, and no knowledge will be indepth. Depending on your TA, quizzes may or may not be hard. My TA asked us to know everything and thus 95% of the kids in my class do not have anything close to the 100% quiz average all of the kids with the easier TAs have. This is Fine's fault for not teaching anything. The only homework you do is have quizzes on each chapter in each TA session (quizzes can take 10 to 15 minutes) thus resulting in only 40 minutes of learning time. There are 3 midterms and each works its own way. The first midterm was actually straightforward and I did pretty well in it. The second I didn't study for much and did poorly but 1/2 the questions were trick questions or just not related to anything we learned at all. The third midterm I spent at least 15 hours studying for - all that studying did not pay off because Fine basically said, when giving us that exam, "You know all that studying you kids have been doing? Throw it all out the window because this test has nothing to do with the material." The midterms have NOTHING to do with the practice midterms although that is the ideal way to study. Fine tries to make you study extra stuff on the side and even tries to get you to use his computer program on IR frequencies. Fine asks you to know so much and 95% of what you have to know is self-taught. And the book sucks so self-teaching can be detrimental to your mental health. In fact, I was using Google for pretty much every aspect of chemistry that the book could not explain in even remotely understandable terms. In conclusion, if you want to learn chemistry do not take this class b/c you will be ripping your hair out in frustration and anger and feel things like "why do I even care to study? I won't do any better anyway". If you want to do well in chemistry, do not take this class because you won't unless you are the nerdiest of all nerds (no offense to the nerds). My roommate came out of McDermott's final today 1 1/2 hr after it started at 9am - he also told me it started 30minutes late. He hasn't gotten less than 100% on any quiz and he had the freedom to not go to one midterm b/c he knew he'd do well on the final so as to drop his zero. If you can, try to get into McDermott's class or even Turro's who I hear has as easy a class. If you aren't going to learn anything anyway, you might as well do well in the class. Fine is not your answer and some day he will be replaced by someone who knows what the hell it means to be able to teach and to be fair when assigning chapters to study for midterms/finals.

Dec 2004

In my opinion the hardest of the three chem professors for one reason....no curve...the midterms straight out the practice exams and the final is absurd...just wrong...the quiz grade is based soley on your TA...you either have the easy one of the hard one...very subjective...watch out for his final it hurts

Dec 2004

Although there are mixed reviews of this guy, I personally liked him. I went to every lecture because he made them so interesting with great demonstrations and interesting facts. He is very interesting to talk to and almost always available. Don't expect him to hold your hand and walk you through how to do problems in the lectures, he teaches beyond the text book, which is why you're at Columbia, so grow up and don't whin if you have to read the book and figure some stuff out on your own, besides, there is always recitation and office hours to help you.

Dec 2004

Valentini is probably the best damn professor at this school.

Dec 2004

Len is very very boring and you will do just fine not going to the lectures. He spends more time going over the nobel prize winners that studied at CU than actually teaching Chem. Anything worthwhile in the lectures he goes over too fast for you to understand. He seems like a very intelligent man and he is very very nice but because of this course i am dropping pre-med for now. The practice exams have nothing to do with the actual exams. And from what i hear the other teachers are 10 times easier but Fine writes the Final so at least youll have a good idea what that will be like. Basically if you want to learn anything then stick to your textbook. One good point is that he will always try to give you the highest grade possible- for example we had a 25 question test where 5 of the questions didn't count but if you got all 5 questions right then he gave you the higher percentage grade.

Dec 2004

WARNING this is the worst professor you will ever encounter. Not only do his lectures go off on tangents but his test have nothing to do with his practice test. If you want to do well in this class, just hope that your a good guesser on test. If you are stuck with this guy i warn you to find A WAY to SWITCH classes because the other chemistry professors such as turro give very easy exams. However, what makes professor Fine a complete jerk is the fact that he will talk about dumb things in lecture that do not pertain to chemistry... and he is not funny... simply an old man who you want to kill! Therefore, if you are a pre-med student and your looking for good grades on your science courses, I will guarantee you that if you take another professor your llfe willl be much better. THIS IS THE IDEAL PROFESSOR FROM HELL!

Nov 2004

I tried to stay awake in his lectures, but it simply doesn't work. He simply does not teach chemistry. He DOES teach something, but it definetely has nothing to do with what he's supposed to teach. The textbook and the TAs are your saviours, though.

May 2004

Ann McDermott is an able, caring teacher who tries hard to impart knowledge and makes time for students. A terrific dinner for students was held as well as a museum lunch (she attended both). The trick to doing well in her class is (a) knowing that 80% of the exam questions come from the text HW and doing problems over and over, (b) make sure you're in a TA section where you can kick butt (switch if you must), (c) BONUS POINTS. You've got to go to class because bonus point assignments are given out (some involve spending time outside of class on NMR - make the time!). They add up.

May 2004

Valantini is a great professor, teaches very well, BUT its as if he feels that everyone in his class is at columbia to do chem 24/7! ENGINEERS BEWARE!! You do not have time for this guy unless you already know chem down cold and actually want a challange. But if you dont know chem that well you ceratinly dont have time to do all the studying required to get a good grade in this class. His exams are unnecissarily difficult, he makes you memorize formulas and tries to trick you on half the questions. Bottom line, Valentini is a great guy, very nice, great professor, great teaching style, realates chem to everyday life, does interresting demos and gives entertaining lectures BUT he expects you to know EVERYTHING down cold, some of his exams questions are just rediculous, he tries to trick you in the exam alot, doesnt curve, and gives out a very large workload that he actually expects you to do and requires that you go to every reciation and take every quiz. You can get a much better grade with much less work in another section, though u might learn a bit less chem and alot less about plumbing.

May 2004

Turro is a very boring professor. Most people fall asleep in class, or have learned to just skip it altogether because you learn more by reading the textbook. It is easy to get lost in the classes, and difficult to understand what he's doing because he jumps around very quickly. The midterms come pretty much straight out of the practice exams, so memorize the answers and you'll be fine! However, the final was very difficult, and even if you memorized every single practice question from the entire semester, it will only be good for about 15/75 questions. The final is unfair because it is much more difficult than the midterms and goes beyond what was learned in class.

Apr 2004

Ehh....If your trying to learn something from this class, stop. Its impossible, the lectures go in circles and circles. They are also very boring. But all in all, Fine is a nice guy who is always trying to teach something (he fails). If you know chemistry, this class is easy. If you don't, it can be torture.

Apr 2004

Awesome Professor. He's dynamic. His lectures are interesting. He's always available for extra help. His 25 question multiple choice tests are kind of challenging, but challenges are always good.

Apr 2004

After the first lecture, with his cool little movie about Havemeyer and little demos with fire, I thought Prof. Fine would be an awesome professor, but by the second lecture, I realized I was wrong. First, his lectures make no sense and I really wonder if he is still teaching because the Chemistry department pities him. Also, he would ramble on and on about the fricking nobel prize, politics or whatever else was on his mind for 20 minutes in lecture. That will not help me on the MCAT, so please Prof Fine, do your job and teach Chemistry. And finally, he is arrogant and he does not respect his students and really does not care about them at all. The exams were torture because he would ask questions about random things he said in lecture, he would throw material on the exam we were not required to know and his questions were poorly phrased, with plenty of run on sentences and more ramblings. Expect questions like "well if I throw some sugar and salt in the air and they land in a bowl, tell me the percent weight of Cl-?" I was actually able to get an A but I didn't see that grade because Fine a) calculated everyone's grades wrong and b) he normalized our means with the means of Prof. Turro and Ann McDerment, who gave their classes exams that were insanely easy and straightforward. Unfortunately, being a post bacc I had to take this class, but just to give everyone a head's up, Columbia's teaching of Gen Chem is horrible and the faculty is very inept. I learned more when I took GChem at UChicago because I actually had to learn how to use the Schrodienger Equation, my profs didn't ramble about bullshit, it was all problem based, and we had exams that were not multiple choice. My final words of wisdom, go to lecture even though sitting through one is a bitch and a half, outline the chapters and do every single problem you can get your hands on. Otherwise, take this lecture with Turro or McDerment and stay away from Fine!

Apr 2004

Take this class if you want to have a class which you wont attend after the first one. Seriously, after going to one or two, you will realize that there is no logical reason to attend thic class. First of all, it is extremely boring, not only the professor, but also the stuff she teaches. Secondly, she goes from slides and posts all the slides to courseworks, so youll know what you are missing before the exams. And laslty, she posts practice exams, which are identical to the actual exams, only the numbers in the questions are changed (if there is no number to be changed in that question, youll see the exact question.) By the way all exams including the final are multiple choice (Man this class is really a joke). So if you want an easy A without even going to class and without spending time on the material, take this one. If you want to learn chemistry, you should go somewhere else.

Feb 2004

I’ve seen a lot of raves and a lot of rants so I just want to set some things straight. Overall I think Professor Fine is a great professor. Although, I agree with some of the negative comments posted. Yes, he does talk about stuff that is not on the exam (e.g. history of 309 Havemeyer) but it makes the class interesting. Yes, he is political to some degree. But all of his “off topic” stuff throughout the semester doesn’t even add up to half a lecture. He covers the material very well. His powerpoints are a little bit disorganized, but he tries to give them out before lecture so you can take notes on them – unlike many other Profs. When he works out problems, he works them out on the blackboard – which I think is much better than trying to follow equations through powerpoint slides. He is very approachable during office hours and holds his own review sessions before the exam. Go to those review sessions - he basically goes over everything you need to know. Sometimes, he even gives away exam questions! If you show up to lecture, you will be rewarded. There are several questions on each exam that you will know just by being in lecture or seeing the demos. The extra problem sets that he posts are ball busters, but he will help you solve them - if you ask. The TA's will also help you solve them - if you ask. Yes, they are hard, but they really test your understanding of the material. The exam questions are nowhere near as hard. The class was fun and informative. Professor Fine is definitely not condescending and aloof. He responds to the mid-term survey that you fill out, he goes over it in class and addresses the suggestions and comments that students make. He wants to get to know his students but you need to take the initiative too – he has over 300 students between the 2 sections. He invited students to sign up to have dinner with him at faculty house. I believe ~ 30 students signed up and he took them to dinner in groups of 10. How many "aloof and unapproachable" Profs at Columbia do that?

Jan 2004

Michael was a very nice person. He was more than happy to help and even reminded us repeatedly about his office hours. Even if you had the most basic question, he'd be glad to take an hour explaining it to you. I think I learned more from him than from the lecture.

Jan 2004

Does all lessons with projector. Basically high school chemistry all over again. Easy if you remember it, more difficult if you don't. Professor McDermott is very interested in chemistry, though, so she teaches with a lot of enthusiasm. Encourages questions. First few lessons are history of chem. Later gets into how chem relates to today's world. Gives some extra credit, which includes filling out a course evaluation online and writing questions for her to use on the exams. If she uses them, you get credit. Homework is optional, but exams are easier if you do it. There's A LOT of homework.

Jan 2004

Nicholas Turro is the best teacher for this course. He is friendly and entertaining, and fills his lectures with a variety of experiments, movies, and demonstrations. He tries hard to make the class fun. For example, the TAs took pictures of us on the first day of recitation, and when the semester ended these were shown as a slide show to sentimental music. He goes out of his way to ensure that students don't have to work too hard. He gave away bonus points for just about anything: doing online practice tests, filling out surveys, etc. He maintains the courseworks website so that it always has relevant information. Test questions are always from the online practice tests. Before tests he has a online discussion board on which he or his TAs answer questions posted by students. If that wasn't enough, he even makes it easy to drop a midterm or decrease the importance of the final. If you think all this makes the class too easy which means you'll get screwed by the curve, relax. There is NO CURVE. I got an A- in this class, only because I got really lazy. I also didn't pay attention during his lectures. If you avoid these mistakes, the class is geared to get you an A. Make sure you take this professor.

Jan 2004

Yes, it's true. At first, all the people in Turro's class thought they were the chosen ones. While those in Fine and McDermott's class slaved over the textbook, those in Turro's class laughed and then went their merry way, practice questions in hand. Midterms came and went, Turro's flock barely having raised an eyebrow, Fine's children cursing our names. Then... the FINAL came... and the moans that rose up out of Havemeyer 309 were worse than those during the Black Death! The pages flipped as each student searched desperately... where were the practice question... where were they? Their minds raced... "Oh my God" they thought... WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY DO SOME CHEMISTRY. Heads down, they went up to the TA's to hand in the exam with somber faces... THey knew that coupled with no curve in Turro's class, they had failed. Ok, so, here's the deal. I hope you liked my dramatic story, because ask anyone in Turro's class... that's EXACTLY how it was. Turro started off with every midterm EXACTLY from the practice questions. And then he screwed the whole class. I'm beginning to think someone from the chem department saw the culpa review that some jerk did in november and chastised Turro for it. Nonetheless, be careful. While it was very unfair for Turro to do that to us, the tests, even without the practice questions, were fair. It was just that no one studied all that much because the practice questions were there. Anyway, word to the wise... he was still better than Fine or McDermott, but don't slack off if he decides to pull a fast one again.

Jan 2004

this course is exactly an independent study class.

Jan 2004

I spent most of the class wondering why I physically could not stay awake. McDermott seems to honestly try to put together an interesting lecture; she speaks clearly, attempts to incorporate applicable facts, addresses questions quickly, and seems to offer sufficient outside help (although I never took advantage of this). However, all of her lectures tend to blend together into one long slideshow of meaningless pictures and equations with no real information or explanation. The class also jumps around from chapter to chapter which makes just reading the book difficult as well. The 20 question m/c exams are pretty straightforward and come from the practice tests. One standard deviation was usually the equivalence of 1-3 questions, so your final grade really depends on how many of the practice tests you read through and how good you are with m/c.

Jan 2004

One bloody awful professor. Highly disorganized. Comes to class and pulls material randomly out of his butt. I heard him repeat the same lecture three times in a row. Also, he obviously knows what the hell he's talking about but doesn't communicate it well at all. People lost him about a month before the end of the term. Also, he doesn't curve the class and the final is an unrealisitically hard killer. I've heard horror stories of Lenny Fine, but this is one professor I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy.

Dec 2003

Class is extremely boring. Lectures move fast, b/c they are done through Powerpoint slides. Don't expect to be able to write everything down by hand. There are three midterms, which, in my opinion, got progressively harder. To ensure that there are no surprises on the exams, make sure you go to class. I've never had to approach her personally. Overall, a decent, if dull, study of GChem which is not extremely difficult, but neither a complete walk in the park. You're grades will reflect how much time you put into the class. On the final: very long, and expects you to extrapolate on a lot of basic concepts. Not a regurgitation of basic facts, but rewards those who think more deeply

Dec 2003

Great guy! Bad Professor! He's really funny and his lectures on ocassion are fun. Most of the time, you sit there wondering wut the F**K is he talking about. On average he covers about 1/3 of the material you are going to need for the midterms/exam. The 3 midterms are easy becasue he takes all of the questions from the practice questions he gives you. However, he makes the final impossible, consisiting of question you have never seen. Gotta do your reading or pay attention on lecture since there are weekly quizzes in recitation. They are usually easy of you read or went to lecture.

Dec 2003

Yea, he's boring, welcome to chemistry. He's a nice guy and is interested in chemistry he may go off on tangents but he's not bad. He teaches via powerpoint presentations. He doesn't know everybody by the end of the semester probably because he has so many students. The first and third midterms are pretty easy but the second one is usually the hardest. The final was easier than I expected. A lot of questions from the midterms were repeated on the final so go over them. Read the textbook to understand the concepts. He asks a good amoun t of concept questions so make sure you understand what you're doing. Overall, this class doesn't take that much work when there is no midterm that week.

Dec 2003

He's a brilliant man, and an interesting and entertaining lecturer, but a lot of the stuff he talks about has nothing to do with the material that will be on the exams. He is also very political - "Entire wars are being fought over hydrocarbons!"

Dec 2003

BEWARE!! His lectures start out fascinating and engrossing but quickly become incomprehensible after the second midterm. For the three midterm exams, he takes almost all (like 20-23 out of 25) questions from the practice exams to lull you into a false sense of complacency. This, combined with thte fact that he lectures on a PhD level but gives the first three midterms on a high school level really skews your perception of the course, how to understand his lectures, and how to study for exams. Then, BAM!, for the final, you have a long crazy exam with MUCH HARDER questions and very few (< 5 out of 75) questions taken from the practice exam.

Nov 2003

Fine's an alright professor. His power points can be disorganized and off topic at times but for the most part he covers the material well. He doesn't really answer questions which is annoying but ask the TAs, they're great. The pace of the class is, I feel, entirely too slow but that does make the exams much easier.

Nov 2003

Leonard Fine pretty much destroyed my first semester of college. All I learned through his lectures was who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1937 and why it should have gone to some other guy. His lectures are completely off topic and pretty much force you to turn to the book. After this class you will become a master in the art of independent stuying. The thing is though, you can read every line in the book do every practice problem possilbe and still get fucked on the test because Fine likes to be creative and put hard weirdass questions nobody has ever seen. This section is by far the hardest in relation to the other chem section, so try to avoid by all means. The only people that do well in this class are those who have a very strong background in chemistry.

Nov 2003

She is a very smart women, however sometimes I would get very lost during the lectures, but she was always very helpful and clear in her office hours. Overall, I did learn a lot, and she is very nice, but you do have to do a lot of figuring things out on your own.

Nov 2003

Dr. D is great! She is clear and enthusiastic. This class is not easy, but if you like chemistry, it actually ends up being lots of fun (some folks might disagree with me...). If you want to do well, you're going to have to work hard. The work load is doable, but it will take up lots of time, as you may have assumed from the 5-points of credit youÂ’ll get. One problem set is due each week, along with a significant (but reasonable) amount of reading in the textbook. The textbook is great! It is clear, and covers the material in depth, but not in gory detail. Do the reading! I find it really useful to also do the problems within each chapter. The first exam is relatively easy. The second exam is a lot more difficult and really pushes you to think. This is a good thing! In general, scores tend to drop quite a bit on the second exam, but it is to be expected considering that the material really does get a lot more difficult conceptually. I have yet to take the final. I find Dr. D's problem solving sessions really helpful! She is dedicated to teaching, and she makes you feel lucky to be at Barnard where teaching is held in such high esteem. The lab element of this course is also difficult, but I find it really rewarding. The first six labs are concerned with accuracy and precision. We're talking about 0.01% relative uncertainty here. Make sure to read the Lab Manual thoroughly before each lab. It is their bible, and it will become yours. If you work quickly, carefully, and know what you're doing before hand you should be able to do well. Office hours for lab are great! Lab weeks 7-11 are fun qualitative analysis. This class is hard. I think it's a lot of fun! It'll take up a lot of your time, and although youÂ’ll be told on day one that it is not a "weed out course," I feel like it is at times. Doerrer is great! I haven't met anyone who doesn't like her. Makes you feel good, eh? In any case, if you want to duck out of the science requirement maybe this course is not for you, but if you think you would have fun learning all sorts of cool things and spending a lot of time making sure you understand chemistry, go for it. It's rewarding and Doerrer makes it good. Thumbs up!

Nov 2003

EXCELLENT! His lectures are interesting (whether you like science or not) and he is always prepared. You can ask questions during lecture. He is so into Chemistry that it makes you want to be into it too (if you're not already). He grades very fairly, and the problems on the tests are never a surprise. He gives you long practice problem sets to do before each test, and he takes the questions for his test from the packets! So basically, you get the test before you take it. I recommend Turro 100%.

Jun 2003

Exams very difficult and in totally different format than text questions and lecture. Nice man, but I feel he is ineffective as a teacher as lectures are terribly boring. No demonstrations or other enrichment activities like Prof. Fine.

May 2003

Professor Chapman is an excellent professor, and her lectures are extremely clear. I especially liked the fact that she actually did some experiments during class to show us how what we were learning connected to more practical uses in the lab. While she may not seem approachable, she is actually very nice and always willing to answer questions (and trust me, you will need office hours for those weekly problem sets). Her exams were difficult, but manageable, especially if you keep up with the weekly problem sets. The problem sets are extremely hard, but nothing you can't figure out if you go to her office hours (so make sure to add the office hours to your schedule)! The exams were very similar to the problem sets. The final was really hard but actually didn't turn out bad, and she gives a good curve at the end. In general, this is a tough class, but Professor Chapman is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable and if you are willing to put in the effort, you should definitely take this class, you will learn a lot. Oh yes, as a random aside, the textbook is totally useless. I'm dead serious...nothing from the textbook will ever help you, so you might as well not bother.

May 2003

If you have taken AP chem in high school this class will be a breeze for you. Better yet, if you took the first semester of Gchem w/ fine or adams, it will be even easier. I have not gone to class since the first midterm because the coursework all overlaps w/ gchems first semester. My average is great and this class is definitley going to boost my GPA. The exam problems are short answers and are exactly like the HW problems, unlike Fine where the exams are impossible theoretical multiple choice questions. I didnt find teh teaching to be too bad, i actaully enjoyed the lectures that i went to. But this may vary from studnet to student because I took AP chem in high school and got a 4 on the exam. THe best thing though about this class has to be the fact that there is no recitation of chemwrite.

Apr 2003

I highly recommend Prof. Chapman and this class. If you are interested in Chemistry and are prepared to really learn it, Chapman will teach you very thoroughly. The class is difficult, but if you go to lecture, take good notes (she writes everything down in a very organized way that is easy to understand), and take advantage of her office hours, you will be fine. I am not saying it is easy, but then again, there is nothing about the subject of Chemistry that is easy. Chapman is a wonderful teacher who really knows and understands Chemistry, and if you ask her a question, she can explain it in many different ways until you understand. Although the lecture is big, if you put the time in for her, she will help you. For all pre-meds, this intro class really prepares you with the base knowledge for organic 1. Strongly recommended.

Jan 2003

Professor Adams is by far the worst chemistry teacher that I have ever had. I took chem in high school and loved it, but his awful teaching has made me hate chemistry as well as terrify me for the full organic chemistry course. Adams teaches the organic chemistry section of the first semester of General Chemistry. His lectures consisted of him drawing litle "cartoons" on the board of different organic reactions- the pictures were so small that everything in my notes looked exactly the same, making studying very difficult. His lessons have no structure- he just runs around from board to board drawing pictures and the entire class has no idea what to do. His review session filled up the entire auditorium- every seat was taken- because nobody understood. This caused the mean grade on his exam to be a 12 out of 25. I think that he must have gotten a lot of complaints because he wrote the entire class a really bitter email. However, I think he realizes that he is a bad teacher and that the exam was unfair because his portion of the final gave essentially the same exact questions as were on his exam, allowing those of us who did not do so well to get some more answers right, even though we had no idea why they were correct.

Jan 2003

A very poor professor, she teaches solely with Microsoft Powerpoint which is a regurgitation of the textbook and makes the lessons seem even more unwieldy. Also, because of the fact that she uses Powerpoint, the lectures move extremely fast leaving little time to grasp the material and it is virtually impossible to take handwritten notes. Students must print the notes either in Powerpoint or HTML format from the website. She does not demonstrate a thorough understanding of Chemistry which is evident when students make inquiries about various topics and she is either unable to answer them. She claims that she is always around for help, and she is, but she does not adequately assist students when they show up to her office hours claiming that it is best for them to work through the problems on their own. This may have some truth, however, it is an impossibility for students to work through problems on their own when they have no clue about the material. There is no multiple choice on the tests and most of the problems on the test are very different from the homework problems in the textbook. In addition to being "different," they are also much more involved. Sure, you may get partial credit but due to the high point value of many of the problems, partial credit helps minimally. Moreover, many of the problems require an understanding of Chemistry far beyond a General Chemistry course. It is very possible to encounter problems that require a very arcane thought process which is not only time consuming, but a skill that most do not have in the class. Furthermore, she has a pronounced accent and at times she can be difficult to understand. She is not sympathetic to problems/difficulties that people may have with the subject matter and she will grade harshly at the end of the semester. Although the tests are curved, many are not even close to the curve---which demonstrates a widespread inability of students to comprehend the material as she presents it.

Jan 2003

Friesner taught the portion of this course devoted to quantum mechanics. The material was rather interesting, but the presentation was frequently difficult to follow. I found that I had to make more frequent use of the textbook than in other comparable courses in order to follow the lectures. In reality, I probably could have done equally well if I had just read through the chapters in the text and showed up at the review session, at which he revealed about half of the test questions.

Jan 2003

Fine taught this course along with Rich Friesner and David Adams. Of the three, he was by far the most helpful, personable, and entertaining. At times he failed to overcome the difficulties presented by the huge sections and the horrible Havemeyer lecture room, but that may not really be a fair criticism. Some students disliked his frequent digressions into non-tested material, but I think it kept the lectures from becoming too dry.

Jan 2003

Adams' lectures on organic chemistry were scattered, confusing, and often seemingly off-topic. He frequently spends five or ten minutes drawing and narrating a huge reaction diagram and then, when it doesn't work out in a predictable way, tells the class that it really didn't matter anyway. As the exam approached he became more honest about what he really wanted the class to know, but many exam questions still seemed to come completely out of left field. He also sent out a rather unpleasant email after the exam scolding students who complained about doing badly for "immature behaviour".

Dec 2002

Chapman is tough, one of the toughest around. Only take this class if you are prepared to work your ass off and not see it pay off. Don't forget that the class is 5 credits, so it really weighs on your GPA. She is a good lecturer, but chemistry is chemistry and that means boring. Avoid this class at all costs! Take Chem at Columbia!

Dec 2002

Nice alternative to Fine. The class is extremely boring, like you want to cry sitting through it, but she is a really sweet woman who wants you to understand. The tests are pretty hard actually, and you really have to be willing to study, but they are not multiple choice and partial credit is given which makes it better than Fine's class. I would recommend this, however, it was difficult and you must be willing to invest a lot of time in learning the material in detail.

Dec 2002

Think his mad-scientist haircut makes him more interesting in class? Think again. After finishing up the first 2/3 of the portion of the course not learning a thing with friendly but off-track Dr. Fine and with the boring Dr. Friesner, I expected Dr. Adams to make everything click and make the worth at least somewhat worthwhile. I could not have been more wrong. Dr. Adams is in charge of "teaching" the organic chemistry portion of this course. His "teaching" consists of writing structures and organic reactions on the board without explaining them, leaving everyone in the lecture hall dazed and confused. He shows absolutely no mercy on his midterm (the third). This was particularly annoying considering I went to his office hours the day before and he said the exam was easy. The questions are impossible. The mean grade was a 12/25 on this multiple choice exam. This exam is COMPLETELY based on luck, not how well you know the concepts or how well you prepared. Some people complained, so he wrote the whole class a defensive e-mail, essentially telling us to grow up. Dr. Adams may seem nice on the surface, but he is evil when it comes to academics. Do yourself a favor and take advanced chemistry, NOT C1403 general chem. Save yourself a semester and actually learn something.

Dec 2002

Professor Fine was my least favorite of the three professors that taught the first semester of GChem. The lectures were very boring and filled with unimportant information; he focuses more on who made the discovery than on the discoveries themselves. He loves to test on his demonstrations and even some of the extraneous information, such as who won what nobel prize, so if u miss all the classes and neglect to get the notes from someone, you will certainly see a question or two that you have no idea about. While his lectures are awful, if you can't get around taking this course then you can make it bearable if you find what parts are important for you. The teachers after him aren't quite so bad.

May 2002

I would not wish what I just experienced in General Chem on my mortal enemy. The lectures were at times interesting, but we were prevented from any sort of enjoyment or sense of wonder by the exams, which in no way encouraged any love of the material or of the science of chemistry in general. WHAT IS THE DAMN POINT OF GIVING EXAMS WHERE THE ONLY GOAL IS TO MAKE THE STUDENT FEEL AS THOUGH HE/SHE IS AN IDIOT? I asked myself that question every time I left the exam hall. It is a real shame that professor Fine is permitted to continue his bullying year in and year out-perhaps students are merely happy to escape his class, and leave the burning building without ever looking back. I wish that someone would finally LISTEN to what people say about him. He may be a nice guy outside of class, but it is clear to me that he does not teach to be able to interact with motivated young people. He looks to scare them. What is the point? Why do we pay all this money to be treated in such a way? If he is so intent on giving difficult tests, let him teach uppper level classes, where the students are accustomed to such rough treatment. Why should he be the one to welcome students to the department? Is it really a good idea to introduce pre-med, pre-engineering, and other students to such an important body of material with a punch in the stomach delivered by a grinning Leonard Fine? It is my earnest hope that Prof. Fine will change his ways next year. I know that I am deluding myself. Therefore it is my hope that the department will wisen up and use other teachers next year. I can think of a few individuals who would do a better job, and care more about their students. Saddam Hussein comes to mind...

Jan 2002

My first impression of Prof. Adams was that he seemed like a hard and demanding teacher. He speaks a lot of scientific jargon and tends to drone on a subject without explaining clearly. His lectures in organic chemistry are incomprehensible if you have no background in it at all. He draws nice diagrams of organic reactions on the board but granted if you do not understand the mechanisms, how can you predict what happens in a reaction. The notes he writes on the board are from his own lecture notes. He clearly does not care for teaching only his reseach in spectroscopy. But his exams test whether you attend lecture class and copy his notes. He does not adhere to the textbook and often likes to supplement to it. I think Adams is snotty and condescending because when I asked him a question after class, he looked at me as if I asked a stupid question. But if you want to do well on Adams' exam which is like the hardest exam, try to memorize and understand your notes, read the textbook, do his old exams, and do his assigned problems. Surprisingly, I did the best on Adams' exam than the other two exams and it was the hardest. So he isn't that bad after all. Good Luck.

Dec 2001

Unfortunately, almost all engineers, chem majors, and pre-med's need to take this horrible course. Everyone hates the way the 3, yes 3, professors teach. The textbook is unacceptable, and riddled with mistakes (I've heard accounts of people trying to burn them after the final). If you took AP Chem in high school, do your best to get into another introductory class, even if it is more work.

Dec 2001

Think he's a cool professor after the first lecture uh? NO!! What you learn is the history of chemistry and who Ronald Reagan is! After the first midterm, you would have the impulse to rip his b**** off and kick his a**! I don't really know why he's a professor because he never teaches anything! What you do is read the chapters by yourself, but you will never understand the book because it's like written in German! I didn't even know why I wasted money buying that sh*t! Chemwrite is bullsh*t! You never have to buy the book, just bs on your paper! The best thing to do after taking his exams is to go to gym and scream out his name! (don't forget to add the f word in front of it though...!) I am sure you will be able to do a hundred pounds more! I am sorry for the freshmen in SEAS (including myself)...

Dec 2001

Welcome to Chemical HISTORY. Here you will learn the biography of various chemists most of whom have discovered something or have worked at Columbia University. As for the subject of chemistry, you'll be learning NOTHING! Got insomnia? this class is a sure remedy. Just bring your pillow and sit back and enjoy the lecture.

Dec 2001

RUN RUN RUN AND DON'T TURN BACK. You might as well not go to lecture since this man (not a professor, he can't teach for his life) just spits out random facts and you won't understand them! I suggest taking F1403! The combo of Fine, Freisner, and Adams = headache, nausea, upset stomach, failure, and there's NO CURE. The rumor is true, G-Chem can be harder than Intensive. At least for Intensive, you have a working Prof.