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If you are not a genius at physics, be prepared to get your mind continuously shafted day, after day, after day. You walk out of every lecture dazed and confused, and pondering your place on this Earth after feeling like you have been beaten over the head with a concrete cinder block multiple times. His tests and final are like being burned with a skewer after spending so many hours studying just to see yourself fail. He has a good rep most likely because the top 10% get some sick thrill from being challenged. Even by going to his office hours twice a week and taking notes like a madman every lecture, you still feel like you have no clue what you are doing on his tests. Unless you are a physics major with some sort of deranged need for complex problems, avoid him and avoid suffering.
Bring a lot of lubricant and prepare your posterior to be intellectually violated. You might as well throw away your self-esteem because unless you're one of three people who sit in the front row, you're going to fail every single exam. And that's okay, as long as you don't fail harder than your seat partner.
I wish to write this review in order to help those who will, must, or want to take Corbin's class in the future to know about the whole picture of this class, about Professor Corbin, and about his exams. Just a few words before I start: DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS if you want an easy A ge. DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS if you are not that good at physics (no foundation, poor at physics, etc.). DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS if you are not good at math. Otherwise, you will SCREW you gpa. Just a kind reminder.
Grade Distribution: Five biweekly quizzes, each consists of a 30-point, 4-subpart questions. Every quiz is worth 12%, in total quizs worth 60% of your grade. Final Exam is worth 30% of your grade, which consists of five 30-point-quiz-like questions. Homework on Pearson is worth 10% of the final grade. Professor Corbin will replace your lowest quiz by your second lowest.
About Exams: Corbin's exams are absolutely DISASTERS. Those horrible quizzes, in general, have a mean grade around 58% and median around 61% out of 100%. Corbin never give simple questions like multiple choice or short answers. The worst thing is, not a single question has a number in it, which means every question he gives you'll have to deduct expressions with unknown quantities. Do the derivation and integration based on unknown quantities, which its difficulty is normally not suitable for a class like 1A. Final exam is worse, the mean grade is around 48% out of 100% (72 out of 150), median around 50%. If you are not that good at physics, you might find you cannot solve a single subpart of a question. Frankly speaking, Corbin's exams are so tough that your preparation through homework and lectures might be completely useless. For those who have to go with Corbin, I can only suggest you to go over his notes and lectures again and again, fully understand every single question on hws, go to office hours more often to figure out what you dont understand. Let me put in this way: Corbin's exams are designed for those top and genius science students or those with very very good physics foundation/very good at physics. His exams remind me of the day I was practicing for Physics Bowl and International Physics Olympiad Comp, that's how it is, somehow as as difficult as those comptition-kind questions. For those who have options other than Corbin, do it anyway.
About Lectures: Professor Corbin may be one of the best lecturers I've ever met at UCLA. His class is well organized and super clear. Detailed explanations and demonstrations on the questions and contents are very straightfoward, so even if you have no physics basics, you can definitely follow his steps and learn some physics in class (Well, his exam is another story). Besides, his class is also very interesting and intriguing. You wont fell boring during his class, and I can assure you that you can absolutely learn something here. And Professor Corbin is a very nice and professional instructor.
About the Curve: As far as I know, Corbin's curve is QUITE NICE. For those who can score a couple of points higher than the median every time, you have a guaranteed A. Here's our educated guess based on our grades and information: Getting Around 70%-75% out of 100% in the final grade, you have a very high possiblity to get an A (my friend got 78/100 = A in the total final grade), Above 80% is a guaranteed A (I got 80.6/100 = A, and everyone I know above 80 is an A through out the entire academic year). Overall, around 30 to 40 percent of the entire class can get an A, so the A rate is not that low. Do not panic if your score seems to be low on an absolute scale. ALWAYS COMPARE WITH STATISTICS PROVIDED. As long as you score above the mean, you will be fine. If you score above the median, you did pretty well and dont need to worry at all. If you score one standard deviation above the mean, then you are awesome and in the A range.
In general, if you are not that confident with your physics/math, or if you want an easy A ge, or if you want to get a good grade and gpa, AVOID THIS CLASS AT ANY COST. If you are stuck with him and dont have any other options, I would say follow his lectures and notes, spend lots lots of time studying physics, get some practice on the internet, and go to his office hours to ask questions, and I hope that every of you can get the grade you want. Good Luck to the future generations!
Coming back from some other professor's physics 1C and I would say something about Professor Corbin. Even though Corbin is a awesome lecturer, I will never recommend this class to anyone except those really strong in physics. The point not being his examinations are hard, but there is no easy way to improve your grade if you don't have a strong background. My physics 1C professor also had a ridiculously hard final and the median is comparable with Corbin's, but I did much better because that professor gave a lot of practice material very similar to his final, so at least me, not being strong in physics before taking that class, could practice on them and get familiar with how to do hard problems. This will never happen to Professor Corbin. There is only one guy I know of who has weak physics background but got a A for this class. Guess what he did? He did around 200 MIT physics hw problems and they are very similar to what corbin will give on his exams. So taking some other professor's 1B will definitely make your life easier.
I'm posting this on my way to the mental trauma center at Ronald Reagan after getting absolutely ravaged in the ass by his midterm. I thought i was good at math and physics(5s on both parts of physics C, 5th highest grade in my 32A class) but this was unlike anything ive ever experienced in my life. Completely blanked out and maybe got one of 3 problems. If I'm lucky. Jesus ****ing Christ in heaven, this was a gang rape. I even saw a couple of chicks bursting into tears afterward. To those considering taking this guy, think about whether a brilliant lecturer is worth the crushing blows to your morale and GPA that comes with getting blown out after studying 6 hours. Holy ****. If you want an A or even a B, reconsider now!
As an EE who just finished my first upper div class, I would still say that Physics 1B with Corbin is the hardest class I have yet taken here. He's a nice guy but his exams will absolutely fuck you over if you are not really strong in physics. It's a hard subject in general and I wouldn't consider myself to be especially good at it, and it probably did not help that I took this with all the physics major.
Regardless, he gives a long list of recommended textbook problems that won't help you. The best advice I can give is to do some of them to get a good handle on the basic principles, but then try to find hard problems. If you can get some of his old exams that will really help, or maybe look up and do some MIT physics problems.
All in all, he's very passionate about physics and a great lecturer, but I would recommend skipping him if possible unless you're really good at physics and/or don't mind a GPA plunge.
I'm pretty sure this review will be pretty derivative given how many reviews there already are for Corbin, but I'll take my shot anyway.
Everything you read about him is true and more. His tests are so hard that you start questioning your existence during exams. He's a pretty good lecturer and a funny guy in total (he especially likes to allude to a sketchy past), and a fun character to try to figure out.
Class averages will be pretty low, but of course most people would just be concerned on trying to ride the curve. I personally was below both midterms and was hella stressed for the final, but I managed to pass with a C after intense studying for 2 weeks.
My advice will be to of course do all the homework he "assigns" (textbooks aren't mandatory for his class and he claims you can use any but he will give out homework problems for the 12th, 13th, and 14th edition of University Physics). It's true you can't really know physics until you practice, practice, practice. Do the problems and if you have trouble, ask your TA or find a useful TA, or if not, find a study group to try to figure them out together. I personally didn't find Corbin's office hours helpful as he didn't like to do homework problems, and it usually was like a soft intro to the next lecture (if you want to go, phrase your questions conceptually). The class is made up of two midterms both 25%, and the 50% final, but Corbin tests are so wtf that the best way to study is just doing a shit ton of problems. Don't just practice problems, though, but practice approaches, especially since his midterms are usually made of 3 really hard problems (challenge problems type in University Physics) that you have to complete in 50 minutes. It's hella stressful so don't blank. There isn't actually a lot of math in his midterms (in my experience); the hardest were simple integrals/ derivatives. The final however, did have taylor series for gravitation. Overall, don't get behind on his class, which is easy to do bc the "homework" isn't due (its roughly a chapter a week, sometimes faster), and especially for the last chapter don't forget to study his last examples (like the wobbly star problem), because they might show up on the final.
I honestly don't know if I would take Corbin again for 1A. He was a good lecturer, lively and engaging unlike many others. What he especially taught me is how to approach weird insane physics problems in a short amount of time, but honestly I was so stressed out about his class, since there's no cushion. If you're confident in your physics skills and have done well in say AP Physics, then you'll probably do better than me haha, as long as you don't fall behind on your work, but if you know you're a little worse in physics, then maybe consider taking another professor, because it's not worth it imo (I probably put in close to 40 hours of studying for the final - that's how much work it can be). Good luck to future generations, but fuck those tests!
1C was conceptually difficult. You start the quarter with magnetism and AC current, both of which are difficult topics that require a fair amount of calculus. EM waves relies on both 1B knowledge (know how to find electric fields in a capacitor, for instance) and magnetism, along with introducing curl and divergence. The first half of the quarter just keeps building upon itself, so make sure you keep up with the material.
Although optics seems easy at first, it gets annoying real fast, and optics problems can get creative, making them some of the more difficult problems. Special relativity is a lot of complex information, and Corbin spends a lot of time on relativity, going beyond Lorentz transformations to particle collisions.
However, because all of these topics (with the exception of geometric optics) have extremely steep learning curves, 1C problems are generally a bit more straightforward, and the scores this quarter were pretty low. If you enter this class with a solid background in electricity from 1B, you'll be well-prepared. I would also advise having a good foundation in single and multivariable calculus (should be able to calculate reasonably complex integrals, be familiar with Stokes' and Divergence Theorems), and having linear algebra down will make relativity a bit less intimidating.
Corbin is an awesome lecturer who is clearly passionate about teaching physics. Go to every lecture, review your notes frequently, go to office hours with questions, practice often, and read his CCLE handouts. Textbook questions aren't super helpful but can be a good starting point to help you familiarize yourself with equations and concepts. The best study material is the lecture notes. Try looking over the examples that he goes over in class, changing something about the system, and then rederiving equations.
Overall, I enjoyed this class. The material was interesting, lectures were awesome, and tests were challenging but doable. Midterms are huge time-crunches, but the final is reasonable and you have time to reason out an answer for most of the questions. Don't underestimate optics, and don't slack off on special relativity, even though it might be Week 10.
Overall I liked this class. Corbin gets a weird rep but I honestly didn’t mind his tests. I wouldn’t pick him if there are easier options, but really the curve will probably save you. Focus on memorizing equations and look at previous tests. As others have said, grade scheme is a simple 25% for each midterm and 50% final. If the average is ~35% as long as you get partial credit on each question you’ll pass. Definitely try to find friends in this class so that you can suffer together.