This post is going to be about the Second-Year courses that I took at UBC during the Winter 2010 Session (September 2010 to April 2011), following last year. This will be a summary version for those wanting less detail.
Read the detailed version of this post here.
I previously wrote a detailed post on First-Year courses in UBC Sciences after my first year in 2009-2010. I also posted about my second-year schedule and the transition from first-year to second-year.
Courses taken in second year:
As always, please feel free to leave a comment or a question on any of my posts and I will answer it as soon as possible.
I’m sure you’ve already heard many times, but this course is well known as the med school weeder course. In CHEM 233, you are expected to know and be familiar with all the first year material, especially from the organic chemistry section(s) of CHEM 123.
In fact, the first week or two in CHEM 233 is spent reviewing some first year concepts. Then you go on to learn about reactions of alkenes and alkynes, reactions at the carbonyl carbon (e.g. nucleophilic acyl substitution), reactions at the alpha carbon (the carbon next to the carbonyl carbon), aromaticity and carbohydrates.
Homework in CHEM 233 includes the pseudo-weekly ACE, which is an extremely easy (because you get unlimited tries) online assignment.
Note: ACE has since been replaced by Sapling
It was hard keeping up with this course, as I had many other courses to take care of and other activities. The midterms and the final are also much more difficult than the practice problems in the textbook (Organic Chemistry 5/e by Bruice), and the midterms are difficult to finish within the given time limit. If there are courses you can’t cram, CHEM 233 is one of them.
Note: Textbook by Bruice has since been replaced by Klein
Main advice to CHEM 233 students:
1) Do NOT cram
2) Do every practice problem available
BIOL 200 is kind of like BIOL 121, except about cells only. Most questions are written, and there’s an essay. For the essay, they usually give you a fairly straightforward question that you have to answer in detail and in an essay structure. For example:
“Compare and contrast the transport of molecules across the plasma membrane of a typical animal cell with transport of molecules across the nuclear envelope.”
And then the answer would talk about similarities – diffusion occurs, larger molecules have to undergo facilitated transport, by either active transport or facilitated diffusion, etc. – and differences – active transport across the NPC requires some signal, etc.
There are a lot of problem solving questions in BIOL 200 – questions like “Explain why this happens.” or “What would happen if…?” There’s also some analysis of data, for example interpreting results from gel electrophoresis diagrams. Overall I think BIOL 200 is a fairly straightforward course, perhaps you need to think a little sometimes. Cheat sheets were allowed on exams.
There’s also a tutorial section and tutorials are kind of like problem solving sessions, and are kind of helpful. In the tutorial, you also do post-tests which are like quizzes on the material after you’ve covered it in class, I guess so that people keep up.
MATH 223 taught me about what it takes to be a true mathematician. Apparently, I don’t have it.
MATH 223 is an honours course offered in Term 1 and requires 68% in MATH 101/103/105 or a pass in MATH 121. MATH 223 is about linear algebra, so we learned about stuff like vector spaces, matrices, linear independence, linear transformations, eigenvalues/eigenvectors and inner product spaces.
Homework is weekly, and it took me on average 8 hours to complete, and I still couldn’t finish because some questions just seemed too difficult. After all that work (around 90 hours of doing MATH 223 homework), my homework mark was 86%, thanks to the bonus questions, and the fact that the prof omitted the two worst assignments.
The midterms were a lot easier than the homework, but they were still hard and long. They were marked fair, but strictly. My midterm average was 66% for both midterms. The average midterm mark was maybe around 60%. The final exam was pretty similar to the midterms, maybe a bit easier. I wouldn’t recommend this course unless you are really good at Math, or you are willing to potentially put in a lot of work in the course.
MATH 220 was a difficult course, but it was nowhere near as difficult as MATH 223 in terms of material. I took MATH 220 on Cr/D/F. I found MATH 220 more difficult than MATH 200 and I had to think more. MATH 220 has the lowest class average that I know for a course, and for my section the final average was around 56%. The midterm averages were near or below 50%. I thought that the concepts presented in MATH 220 was pretty straightforward though, and pretty interesting.
Topics covered in this course include set theory, logic (e.g. quantifiers), direct proof, proof by contrapositive, counterexample, properties of a function (injectivity, surjectivity, bijectivity, inverse, composition), proof by contradiction, cardinality of sets (finite and infinite sets), induction, and finally limits of sequences and series. I thought that the most difficult part was the limits of sequences and series, with properties of a function not too far behind.
Homework is weekly, just like in MATH 223.
Everyone that I have talked to has found MATH 220 to be difficult, and I think one of the reasons for this is because sometimes it’s hard to find out where to start a question, or which steps to take. That is, although the concepts may seem straightforward, applying them to questions is not always as straightforward. For example, there are many questions that begin with “Prove or disprove…” and really, if you’re not even sure whether the statement given is true or not then you can’t even prove/disprove anything. Also, questions tend to be open-ended and there can be many different solutions and ‘paths’ you can take to arrive at the end of an answer or an end to the proof. Sometimes it’s hard to find out which steps are the ‘right’ ones. I found the midterms and final to be quite rushed, and barely anyone finished early.
So basically, MATH 220 had some difficult parts, but overall it was fairly straightforward and could easily have been learned from the textbook – the textbook is in my opinion concise, well written and explains everything that it needs to in a language that is easy for students to understand. One of the keys to mastering proofs is simply lots of practice – that way, not only will you be able to do similar proofs (and do them faster too) on the exam, you may also learn how to deal with ‘new situations’ or new proof questions with more ease.
Taken by Distance Ed.
This course is somewhat well known as a GPA booster course. The problem with taking the course online was that you may be tempted to procrastinate.
There are online notes in “learning modules” for the students and they are supposed to help you learn so that you can do the online quizzes. There are 20-30 online quizzes in total, and there are also “Grade Grinder” assignments, also to be submitted online. You need an un-used CD from the textbook to submit Grade Grinder assignments. This course is pretty easy overall but there are some concepts that I found were difficult to grasp at first, such as those involving validity and consistency. Anyway, I barely read the textbook unless I had to (e.g. for Grade Grinder assignments) and basically just did the quizzes using my own knowledge (this course has a tiny bit of overlap with MATH 220) and the online notes.
I’ve heard that taking the course online gives you less work than those who choose to register in the lecture section, and distance ed students are allowed to attend the lectures anyway. Some Grade Grinders are difficult to do, especially some of the proofs.
For distance ed, we got unlimited tries on online quizzes, which was great. Unlimited tries for Grade Grinder too. This turns out to be a potentially guaranteed 70%. Over 80% of the final exam (done in a computer lab) were online quiz questions, so I basically studied by doing each quiz 5 – 10 times or more if necessary.
NOTE: If you’re asking about GradeGrinders for PHIL 220A, I don’t have them anymore – sorry!
This course was very different from CHEM 233. Less thinking required, more calculations involved. Many people say it’s an easy course, and after taking it, I can’t say I disagree.
There are three main units in this course – thermodynamics, spectroscopy and kinetics (also taught in this order). The midterm was based on thermodynamics. There was only one midterm in this course and it was worth little, while the final exam was worth 70%. Thermodynamics was probably the easiest unit for me – many of the questions are similar to what I learned before in CHEM 123. However, there was more integration in the notes to derive formulae, but we weren’t really responsible for knowing it, although I think I knew what was going on for the most part since I took MATH 200.
Spectroscopy was a somewhat confusing topic for me, relative to thermodynamics and kinetics, so I ended up relying on the textbook Organic Chemistry by Bruice which was from CHEM 233.
The homework in this course only consisted of online quizzes, each with two tries. There are also problem sets on the VISTA website, but not all of them are what you would expect on a CHEM 205 exam (the online quiz questions are more similar in style to the exam questions). However, the problem sets were still very useful to do in order to have some practice and gauge understanding and I probably did each problem set for thermodynamics and kinetics 3 – 4 times by the end of the course, which helped a lot.
Overall, this course was pretty fun and easy. It definitely seemed difficult at times during the course, especially with the integration and the whole unit of spectroscopy, but after practicing and reviewing it turned out fine.
BIOL 201 was probably the course that worried me the most this term, although in the end it wasn’t too bad. Unlike the first-year courses that I took, the final exam, also known as Exam-II was not cumulative, and as such, both the midterm and the final were essentially final exams because the material from each was only tested once. Exam-I (“midterm”) was worth 35% and Exam-II (“final”) was worth 50%.
I found this course a bit overwhelming at first, possibly because there were so many new concepts and new material that I hadn’t really touched on before. But eventually, I got used to doing the problem sets and reading the textbook.
I didn’t study that well for Exam-I – wasn’t reading the course notes/textbook until almost midterm time nor did I attempt the tutorial problem set. But I studied a lot better for the final (Exam-II) by reading the textbook twice and doing the problem sets a few times, including the tutorial one. Other than exams, tutorial participation is worth 2.5% and there are these online quizzes – actually only two of them in the whole term – worth 10% total, so 5% each. Finally, there were a few clicker questions for participation, worth 2.5%.
Overall, I did enjoy the material in this course because I learned a lot of new things like how ATP hydrolysis usually doesn’t occur… basically all you need to do to succeed is read the course notes a few times regularly and do all the problem sets repeatedly on a regular basis.
This course was probably my favourite course this term, and I did enjoy a lot of it, especially the first part. The first part of the course was mostly review from BIOL 112 and kind of like an introduction to bacteria (and Archaea). Learned about the cell wall (again kind of), the periplasm, Gram positive and negative cells (I FINALLY got it down now – usually I get them mixed up), and gene expression (up-regulation for example).
I did exceptionally well on the first midterm, got only a few wrong and the midterm (and final) were multiple choice. The exam is basically similar to BIOL 112, or MICB 202 which are both heavily multiple-choice and there were many questions phrased as: “Which of the following statements are correct?” which many students seem to dislike.
The second half of the course covered topics like antibiotics and how they fail now, nutrition, application of bacteria on farms, bacteria metabolism. I did not like these units as much, especially the questions on the final exam about nutrition. And for whatever reason, I couldn’t follow the material about nutrition and metabolism in class.
There were clicker questions which were mostly participation based. There were also assignments, which were very short and there were only like 4 – 6 assignments throughout the term. They were very straightforward, but very easy to lose marks on. Lots of students fail the assignments. It’s important to clarify stuff with other people and make sure that you put in as much detail as is required to answer the question.
As for studying for the exams, I usually studied by putting the learning objectives into a word document and answering all of the learning objectives with information from the textbook. This worked very well for the first midterm. Apparently, it didn’t work so well for the final, possibly because there were a lot of application questions from metabolism/nutrition about whether a bacteria could survive in a given environment. Final exam is not cumulative, just like BIOL 201.
I took this course because I heard it wouldn’t be too difficult, and also because none of the other courses I wanted fit into my schedule nicely. There were three midterms in this course, the best two taken, and there were also quizzes and tons of clicker questions, for participation as well as a 2% maximum bonus if you got clicker questions correct.
If you actually keep up with the material class to class – that means reviewing lecture notes after each class and taking good notes, reviewing them regularly and doing the review questions before the exam, this course is an easy A+. Oh wait, that’s like for most courses! But probably more so for this one. The exams are all multiple choice, same with EOSC 114 and EOSC 118 from what I’ve heard. The midterms were each an hour long in-class and there are only 25 questions. The final exam is like 70 – 80 MC questions during a 2.5 hour period – time is definitely not an issue. The questions are pretty straightforward, although I found that it was very difficult to get a very high (90%+) mark on the exams because I only reviewed the main material (and right before the exams, too) and didn’t memorize all the tiny details. The course has a lot of memorization.
I think this course was pretty interesting; I got a break from Chem and Bio. Learned some stuff that allowed me to understand climate change a bit better, I guess. On this course’s reputation as a GPA booster – the concepts presented in this course are very introductory and simple, and all you need to do is regurgitate information on the exams.
EDIT: I want to say something about the first year EOSC courses like 112, 114, 118, that people take as electives. These first year EOSC courses are known to be GPA boosters by many but let me say that they often require a lot of work. It’s not difficult work, mostly just memorization but there’s a lot of material. You can be guaranteed an A+ if you put in enough time and effort but it may not be worth it if you don’t have time for your other courses.
CHEM 235! Feared by many.. but it wasn’t too bad. In fact, I genuinely enjoyed the CHEM 235 labs. CHEM 235 labs are weekly and are 3 hours long, just like the first-year labs. Usually, half the people leave like 30 min early and the rest stay until 3 hours are up.
The labs are pretty straightforward. The main techniques in this lab are recrystallization and (liquid-liquid) extraction. There is also melting point analysis, distillation, and thin layer chromatography.
To prepare, I just read the lab manual 2 – 3 times, watched the online videos (which were pretty helpful, why the hell don’t they have them for first-year Chem labs?) and then made my own procedure – wrote out my own steps. For the design lab, which was Lab 6 for me, you’re basically given a mixture of two compounds and you need to find out what they are. We did this by doing liquid-liquid extraction (extracting them), then evaporating the solvent (using something called Rotovap) and then recrystallizing both compounds in order to purify them. Then we did melting point analysis to find out their melting points (and hence their identity by matching them with literature values). Pretty straightforward stuff, except I mixed up the compounds so I lost 20% on the write-up. The write-up is pretty simple, just follow all the instructions and answer the questions to the fullest and it should be quite easy.
The quizzes were also easy and were based off the main points in the lab manual like “What are the necessary features of a good recrystallizing solvent?” The final exam for this course was a few weeks before the actual exam period and it was all short-answer, based off the main points in the lab manual, just like the quiz questions. Pure memorization basically. There were only 2 homework assignments in this course for the later labs, and I almost failed them because I didn’t check over. Make sure to check them over VERY carefully and with other people because the TAs are strict when marking.
Finally, there was a practical exam where you had to set something up, like the setup for distillation or the West condenser set up (for refluxing, which is kind of like evaporating but a special kind).
The two most important things to remember in this course are:
1) Put in a boiling chip whenever you are about to boil something. A boiling chip will keep the solution from bubbling too vigorously during the boiling process. ALWAYS put it in, even before you put any solution into the container (flask) – this will probably help you remember. I forgot to put in a boiling chip on the practical exam… (also don’t put in a boiling chip when the solution is already boiling).
2) When using the West condenser (which is kind of like a cooling device), always make sure the tubes connected to the W.C. go over the top bar on the lab bench. Otherwise, they’ll burn on the hot plate. Also, before you turn off the tap that is connected to the tubes going to the W.C., make sure you turn it off slowly by turning the faucet thing in the correct direction. If you turn it on even more (the wrong direction), then water will come through the tubing fast and you will spray everything and everyone around you. It probably happened like 15 times during the whole course where someone would turn the tap off the wrong way and spray people. Often, this resulted in broken glassware (and lost samples. You can avoid doing this by either turning the tap off slowly, so that you can see if you’re turning it the wrong way and quickly turn it the other way… OR take the tube off the tap first before turning the tap off. This is because when people spray other people, it is through the tubing. So if you take the tube off the tap first, then obviously it won’t spray anyone (through the tubing, at least…)
Taken by Distance Ed.
If you’ve practiced/studied music when you were younger or whatever and want a relaxing course, then you should consider taking this! This course is meant to be for non-music majors, specifically those who have zero or close to no experience with music. A friend of mine also took the course, having zero previous experience in music. The course consists of 50% VISTA quizzes and 50% final exam for the grade scheme.
There are online notes and if you’ve taken music before, I think they’re pretty straightforward. The quizzes are also quite easy, and have unlimited time. Unfortunately, I found that the notes were very wordy and there was a ton of information that was unnecessary to know, especially to answer the quizzes. For example, the history of music and that kind of stuff which the quizzes did not test.
In the course, we learn about notes, scales, majors and minors, keys and clefs, intervals, that kind of basic stuff.
Two of the quizzes use something called Finale Notepad which is a program used to create sheet music. It is not free, but the two quizzes are consecutive, so you could just get the 30-day trial and do both quizzes during those 30 days, so really you don’t need to purchase it. The other quizzes are just multiple choice online quizzes.
The online quizzes are fairly easy, especially if you’ve read the notes and sometimes I didn’t even read them. To study/review, I looked at the review activities and quizzes for each specific section/chapter to get an idea of what I need to learn. Afterward, I went to the notes and read what I thought would be sufficient for doing the quizzes and review activities. I put very little effort into this course compared to my other courses.
There were 6 quizzes total, and the quiz with the lowest mark was omitted, which means each of the 5 quizzes count for 10% of your grade each. Now that I think about it, that’s quite a lot…
The final exam was quite straightforward and was based off the review activities which are at the end of each section in the notes, as well as the online quizzes. We were told exactly what kinds of questions would be present on the exam. Most people finished more than half an hour early and the allotted time was 2.5 hours.
The final exam for this course was in June. But some people accelerated the course and took the final exam in April. If you want to do Honours, or you are concerned for other reasons about the number of credits taken during the Winter Session, you might want to ask your departmental advisor whether MUSC 103 will count as a winter session course or a summer session because you need 30 credits in the winter session to do Honours. For Microbiology & Immunology (and probably most other majors), they count it as a summer session course, so it will not count towards the winter session credits ): If you want the course to count toward Winter Session, then I would e-mail the prof within the first few weeks to ask if you can take the final exam in April instead of June.
I actually didn’t take this course. But I heard it was annoying, and my friend said the final exam was 11 sheets… double sided… G_G
As always, please feel free to leave a comment or a question and I will answer it as best as I can and as soon as possible. Good luck!
Another post of interest is the detailed version of this post:
Second-year Courses in UBC Sciences! (Detailed)