CHEM 123 – Introductory physical and Organic Chemistry

Tips for success

Take notes by hand, especially for Organic chemistry.

• don’t do all the questions in the problem sets. They’re not worth your time.

• Of the practice problems that you do, walk yourself through them step by step.

• Do the practice midterms.

• Don’t do the extremely old practice exams because the exam format has changed.

• If your learning style doesn’t click with your professor, stop going to class. I respected Dr Chou for telling us on the first day that he will not punish us for our different learning styles and will not deduct marks if we do not come to class.

• Do not stress too much about getting clicker questions wrong. Clicker questions are worth little in the grand scheme of things.

• Buy the Organic chemistry Workbook. It’s helpful though you likely will not have time to do all the problems.

• Do not buy the Physical Chemistry workbook. I barely used it because lecture notes were enough.

Chem 123 Lab:

• Do your pre lab at least the night before. The stress of doing the pre lab a hour before it is due is not fun

• Take pre lab quizzes seriously.

• Listen carefully to your TA’s suggestions on how to do your lab report

• PRO TIP: ERASABLE PENS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND. I wish someone told me to use them so I didn’t have to awkwardly cross things out. Chem labs are pen only so if you make mistakes, you’re not allowed to use whiteout. Game over friends.

• On that note, you must use black or blue pen. I love colourful pens but pink or orange or purple pens do not belong here.
I personnally used Pilot 0.5 mm but any erasable pens will do

 

Suggested professors: for Physical Chemistry, Dr Keng Chou, Dr Glen Sammis. For Organic

Chemistry Dr Jason Hein.

MATH 103 – Integral Calculus

How to get an A+ in this class:

• utilize the help of your peers on the Piazza website and give help in return

• Make friends that also take MATH 103 and meet to work on OSH together

• Review your old assignments and quizzes to see what you did wrong.

• Get your homework done at reasonable time before it’s due but not too early when you haven’t learned the concepts yet. Do not do next week’s assignment as soon as it comes out.

• The paper version of the textbook is a waste of money.

• Even though this is math class, take notes.

• Always come to class on quiz days. If you can’t come to class on an OSH day, make sure you have a trusted friend hand in your assignments for you.

• Keep copying notes down even if you get totally lost during a lecture.

• Compile a list of formula that you refer often to so you don’t have to flip through your note every time to find what you need.

• Be psychologically prepared to feel pressed for time during math exams.

• Pick up your old exams and review them to see what you did wrong

Suggested professor: Dr Edwin Perkins. Dr Perkins is super friendly and generous about helping his students to work through what they don’t understand.

ENG 110 – English Literature

How to get a good grade:

• Actually do the assigned reading before class

• Take notes while you read.

• Buy a physical copy of the books you’re assigned. They typically cost less than $10

• Bring the book or print out the reading to bring to class so you can refer to it during discussion. You can bring a digital version.

• Do the extra reading on the genre, the author, what society was like and what world events were occurring when the piece was written.

• Speak in your discussion section 1) you get participation marks. 2) you force yourself to organize and vocalize your thoughts. 3) your TA will learn that you’re alive.

• Your professor will often not write or present any notes but you should take notes on what is being discussed.

• Take notes on good points that your classmates bring up.

• Start working on your final paper early

• Spend time working on a good thesis

• Choose a final paper topic that looks least boring to you. I know you think all the topics are awful but it gets better once you start refining your idea.

• Talk to your professor at office hours if you have questions.

 

Suggested professor: Dr Gisele Baxter, especially if you’re into Gothic!

CHEM 121 – Introductory Chemistry & Lab

How to get an A+

• Take notes in a notebook. I started the class taking notes on my CHIRP but realized that a notebook was easier to flip through.

• Buy the newest CHIRP (the custom textbook sold by the Undergraduate Chemistry society).

• Pro tip: buy an undergraduate chemistry society membership to get a discount on your lab goggles and lab coat.

• don’t do all the questions in the CHIRP. They’re not worth your time.

• Do the practice midterms.

• Don’t do the extremely old practice exams because the exam format has changed.

• If your learning style doesn’t click with your professor, sit in on another professor’s lectures whose teaching style suits you better.

• Do not stress too much about getting clicker questions wrong. Clicker questions are worth little in the grand scheme of things.

• If you’re having trouble understanding from CHIRP, use online resources.

 

Lab:

• Do your pre lab at least the night before. The stress of doing the pre lab a hour before it is due is not fun

• Take pre lab quizzes seriously.

• Listen carefully to your TA’s suggestions on how to do your lab report.
• ERASABLE PENS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND. I wish someone told me to use them so I didn’t have to awkwardly cross things out. Chem labs are pen only so if you make mistakes, you’re not allowed to use whiteout. Game over friends.

• On that note, you must use black or blue pen. I love colourful pens but pink or orange or purple pens do not belong here.
I personnally used Pilot 0.5 mm but any erasable pens will do

 

Suggested professor: Dr Zachary Hudson

BIOL 112 – Biology of the Cell

Lots of

• Launchpad

• Go to class! I learned more in class than on my own for this course.

• Analogies

Tips for success

• You have to buy Launchpad to do the weekly pre reading assignments

• The weekly pre reading assignments are really short and easy. Do not stress about them

• Exams are first done individually and then done as a group.

• If you’re in Dr Smith’s class, clicker marks are participation based so don’t worry about getting them wrong.

• Important: Keep up with your pre readings.

• Even if you take notes on a computer, bring a pen because there are hand-in at the end of the lecture assignments.

• It’s hard to get a good seat. Come to class on time.

• There are unfortunately no old exams available to study from. Dr Smith does give you a mock exam though.

Suggested professor: Dr Karen Smith

PHYS 117 – Physics

Tips for success:

• You must bring an electronic device to class to answer in-class problems

• Perusall is due every Sunday night. You have to put online comments about the assigned

textbook reading and reply to classmates’ comments for marks. PRO TIP: if you have trouble coming up with questions, answer your classmates’ questions instead. Pro TIP: the diagrams are good places to ask questions.

• Mastering Physics are online problem sets that are due every week. Carve out time to work on these. Sometimes they can be challenging.

Continue reading “PHYS 117 – Physics”

Eng 112 – Strategies for University Writing

You’ll learn:

  • critical reading of academic texts
  • how to write to communicate effectively

Class structure

  • mandatory regular attendance
  • participation in class activities and discussions.
  • In-class essays
  • Take-home essay(s)
  • 3-hour final examination at the end of the course where you’ll be asked to write essays

Lots of

  • Implementing “They Say I Say” into your writing style. You’ll find out what They Say I Say means every soon.
  • Pointing out what established academics have done wrong in their writing

How to get a good grade:

  • Actually do the assigned reading before class
  • Bring the book or print out the reading to bring to class so you can refer to it during discussion.
  • You can bring a digital version.
  • IMPORTANT: Speak in class!! 1) you get participation marks. 2) you force yourself to organize and vocalize your thoughts. 3) your professor will learn that you’re alive.
  • Your professor will often not write or present any notes but you should take notes on what is being discussed.
  • Take notes on good points that your classmates bring up.
  • Start working on your final paper early
  • Choose a final paper topic that you’re personally interested. Do not choose a topic solely because you think your professor will like it. If you find your own topic boring, you will write a boring paper and your professor will cry while drinking coffee trying to read your paper.
  • Go get at least two physical books when you’re conducting background research.
  • The UBC Libraries are great resources.
  • Spend time working on a good thesis.
  • Talk to your professor at office hours if you have questions

Suggested professor: Dr Lorcan Fox (he’s hilarious!)

 

I feel guilty when I have fun sometimes

Have you ever felt guilty about having fun? Lately, I haven’t been able to have fun because after I’ve relaxing, I feel guilty!

The truth: It’s important to live life right now and not always wait for “someday” to start living. 

I’m trying to convince myself this all the time but I honestly don’t always convince myself. I like to look at the next step ahead and work towards getting there. I bet lots of you goal-driven busybees are like that too!  It’s good to be motivated to work, to create, to be out and about. Don’t reject the ambitious streak in you because it’s taking you places and it’s taking you where you want to go.

Just watch that you’re not telling yourself “someday”, “later”, or “down the road” too often. Why?

  1. There will always excuses . You’ll _____ when you’re less busy with school during the break, but oh you want to spend time going out during your break, maybe after you graduate but your job keeps you busy, and oh you’re too busy with your kids.
  2. If you’re in for a lot of schooling e.g. medicine, it gets busier as you go along not easier. You think you’re too busy now. It gets busier in medical school, even busier residency, much busier when you’re an attending…
  3. Later may never come. During December of 1st year, one of my best friends was diagnosed with a tumour and the possibility of such a sweet young person dying young drastically changed my outlook on life. We’re young but we can die tomorrow. Cancers, diseases, accidents, and more can happen to any of us any time. This sounded dark but that’s the truth.
  4. You can’t rewind time. You can’t always make up for lost time in the future. Your grandpa’s birthday may seem low-priority if you only think about getting to your goal of becoming, say, an architect. But years later, you can’t go back in time if you think you should have spent more time with your grandfather.
  5. Are you taking care of your own health right now? 

You’ve been working hard and will continue to work hard. If you’re been working yourself to the bone, this is for you:

Right where you are in life, not just at some elusive point in the future, 

You deserve to be happy. 

You deserve to relax sometimes. 

Don’t feel guilty about taking an evening off to meet up with your old high school classmates. Focus on enjoying the company of your best friend the entire time you’re hanging out. Waiting for the perfect time to date is something I hear about often but there is no perfect time. As long as dating is something you want to do and feel ready to do, spending time building a relationship is not a waste of time.  Having hobbies outside of your career goal is totally fine. Painting, writing, cleaning your house if that’s what makes you happy, beading bracelets with your neighbor, –  things that don’t add value to your resume can still be valuable to you as a person. They may help you with your personal growth, or just nourish your soul.

So, say yes to new experiences. Say yes to broadening your social and professional network. Say yes to doing what you enjoy. Say yes to spending time with the people that are important to you. Say yes to  discovering more about the world and about the people around you and about yourself. Say yes to a morning hike, a music festival, a movie night, a volunteer opportunity because you’re genuinely interested and not to build your resume, to reconnecting with your cousin, to having a heart to heart with your mom, to writing a blog if that what you’ve always wanted to do.

You’ll be glad when you look back and see that you kept a balance in your life. You’l l be happy and achieved your coveted goal. And you’ll also be glad that you had an amazing time along the way.

As much you look forward to your next destination, enjoy the journey of life along the way.

Love,

Shanna

UBC Second Year Courses for Pharmacology, physiology and how to study

First term

  • CHEM 233 – Organic Chemistry
  • CHEM 235 – Organic Chemistry Lab
  • BIOL 200 – Cell Biology
  • PCTH 201 – Drugs and Society
  • STAT 200 – Statistics
  • (Note: You should take CHEM 211 here if you’re a Honours Physiology or Pharmacology major. )

Second term

  • SOCI 102- Sociology
  • PHYS 118 – Electricity and Magnetism
  • BIOC 202 – Medical Biochemistry
  • CHEM 205 – Physical Chemistry
  • PSYC Introduction to Psychology

These classes were really useful for the MCAT

  • BIOC 202
  • BIOL 200
  • PHYS 118
  • SOCI 102
  • PSYC 101

CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry

  • I had Dr. Jackie Stewart as my professor and she’s great. Super enthusiastic about what she teaches and willing to help us if we don’t understand.
  • Don’t take 8 AM Ochem though. You will regret signing for 8 am class every morning until the end of the term. You’ve been warned.

CHEM 235 Organic Chemistry Lab

  • Very useful class.
  • Your TA and your benchmates are your saviours. Love them, be nice to them, help them. You all are part of a team.

PCTH 201 Drugs and Society

  • I highly recommend this elective. It inspired me to major in Pharmacology and Neuroscience!
  • Dr. Horne is awesome. Enough said. Take this class.
  • If you put in the effort, you will do well in this class.

STAT 200 Statistics

  • highly recommend this elective too. Very useful if you do research.
  • The midterm was really challenging so our professor changed the grading scheme so that more weight was on the final.
  • I went to office hours so often that my professor, Dr. Lang, started to anticipate that I would be back the next week haha. Use office hours!

BIOL 200 Cell Biology

  • The material was really cool but the exams are difficult to do well in.
  • The problem sets have no answers and this will anger you while you study. You don’t understand me now but you will later. Going to office hours for answers helps only mildly.
  • You will want to tear out your hair writing your press release because you don’t fully understand the article you’re supposed to be advertising.
  • To be honest, if you don’t need this class and are not taking it for interest, avoid this class. It’s a lot of work and the exams and assignments are frustrating.

Term 2:

BIOC 202 Medical Biochemistry

  • Dr. Williams will play biochemistry songs. He’s cool.
  • I found this class pretty interesting! You will too probably if you’re interested in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, etc because there are many examples related to medications and medical conditions.
  • the exams were tough even with tons and tons of studying
  • Study tip: Study with friends before exams! It helps to explain your answers and quiz each other on details and draw out pathways on whiteboards.

CHEM 205 Physical Chemistry

  • Our professor provided us with tons of practice exams and problem sets – such a blessing.
  • Class attendance is optional – just a FYI for all you self-learners out there.
  • I can’t say I found the material particularly interesting but the material is useful for the MCAT and understanding biochemistry.

PHYS 118 Electricity and Magnetism

  • Useful class, interesting class, easy midterms but the final was difficult because it covered everything from the beginning to the end of the semester.
  • There are clicker questions every class so be prepared.
  • Tutorial is optional but I highly recommend attending to get guidance from the TAs.

SOCI 102 Sociology

  • I was super excited to attend class!
  • Dr. Neil Armitage is the man you want for your professor.
  • The written assignments are difficult to do well on though
  • My TA was really helpful for tips and feedback if you’re struggling with writing.

PSYC 101 Psychology

  • After I took this class, I decided to change my major to Neuroscience and Pharmacology so you can guess how much I loved this class.
  • Easy to do well in if you attend class and study a reasonable amount. I’m not sure why this class is notorious for being alarmingly difficult. My guess is that it might be difficult if you take this first semester of first year when you’re not used to the workload of university yet.
  • Dr. Luke Clark is super cool and a good professor.

When an exam leaves you frazzled and sad

You may have studied well in advance, hiding out in your room/the library/etc, foregoing the temptations of the beautiful weather outside, turning down invites from friends and family, for the sake of this exam that is worth 85% of your mark. 85% someone asked you. Are there really final exams worth 85% of your mark? Well you just wrote that 85% of your mark final 15 minutes ago. The massive cramp in your right forearm tells you that you haven’t been dreaming.   I heard a quote that was something like “You try really hard. Do the best you can. And still fail” because that’s life. Ok, sit down. You’re not going to fail. You knew how to answer the questions. You just feel frazzled because you were writing non-stop for 3 hours straight. You felt rushed for time AGAIN. Note to self: Go seek help from SPAC or PAC for advice on how to be efficient with time when writing written answer/long essay style exams. These written answer exams are clearly not your forte since you love to write on and on and never know when to stop until you run out of time. You live and learn.

You’re in an awful mood still. Hey, don’t get yourself down because you’re able to be happy and cheery all the time as you would like to be . At least, you realize how lucky you are to have great friends that are there for you in the midst of your mood storm when you text your despair and they reply with encouragement. At least, at the peak of this, you run into one of your best buds who demonstrated strength and perseverance. Rach is about to write her third exam in a row. She is a superstar. 🙂

In the big picture, exams are absolutely NOTHING compared to the challenges that some people face in their everyday lives. But hey, if you feel down, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel weak sometimes.

Go take a break. Yes, take a break even though you have another massive 60% of your mark exam tomorrow. You deserve a little reward. Spend that food giftcard you can’t remember which volunteering/work gig you got it from and buy yourself something warm to eat instead of the cold salad you’ve been having for the last few weeks. Go something you enjoy. I’m writing this blog post but do whatever interests you and makes you happy: cook, go for a run, go see your boyfriend/girlfriend, play tennis as long as you like it and it’s relatively short. Sorry it has to be short because you’re going to return back to working hard. You chose this life because you wanted an education. You have a destination to get to so start hustling.

Good luck with your exams!

Shanna