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Took Neuroscience 102 with Simmons
First of all, this class is a ridiculous amount of work. Both Simmons and Mayumi (the other Professor) treat it like a Med School class. You are basically supposed study Neuro 102 for six hours a day everyday. Mayumi told us in order to get a good grade in the class, Neuro 102 should be the only difficult class in your schedule. First of all that impossible, and Neuroscience Majors have to take this the same time as 101A, which isn't that hard, but still requires a lot of time. On top of that she recommends quitting all extra-curricular activities, including clubs, jobs and research. She also recommends not socializing, and said when she was an undergrad she spent most of her weekends studying for 102. On top of that, she outlined a sample schedule for us which included about 6 hours of studying a day, and around 45 minutes of exercise. Bitch please, does she know it takes my 2 full hours to go through my entire shoulders and back routine?
The labs are useless. We hardly ever cover anything from lecture, the two exceptions being the Circle of Willis Lab and the Cranial Nerve Lab. No questions about the sheep brain or the stupid MRI program are ever questioned on any of the exams. You can choose your TA by choosing which Row you sit in during your first lab session, choose either Chris or Chelsea. They are both amazing TAs and understand how rough this class is and are super helpful. Chris once stayed two hours past his office hour times because so many of us were there asking questions.
And why were so many of us asking questions? Because Dwayne D. Simmons may be the single worst Professor on this campus. At first appearance he comes off as funny, relateable, he cracks a few jokes and things seem fine. However, his Power Points are essentially useless. They are filled with hardly any information, and if there is something on there it'll be a dumb fun fact such as "Betz cells make up 2% of pyramidal cells". Remember this fact, I'll reference it later in my evaluation. His Power Points are useless to study off of, and you're better off just reading the book portions for his lectures. On top of that, he introduced a clicker like system called Top Hat Monocle. Oh my god, the flaws with this program. First of all it $35 for this stupid program, which says it's smart phone compatible, but it isn't. So many mornings he would ask us clicker questions through Top Hat, but if you tried to use the smart phone app, the questions would never appear. After numerous students complained, he simply said "Oh well that's fine, you can just make up for it next time". So he would just continue to dock us points for not answering the clicker questions because there was an error in the program itself.
The tests are ridiculously hard. Mayumi's portion of the tests are usually all just multiple choice and they are very doable, similar to LS exams. But Simmons's portions are awful. He asks questions on tracts and lesions that are never covered in the lecture or in the textbook. I honestly have no idea how we were supposed to answer some of the questions. I went over every lecture numerous times, listened to the bruincast, and read the book, and there was still material on the exam that I had never seen before. Simmons writes the most arcane questions, and this is where you need to remember my reference for the Betz cells "What percent of pyramidal cells are Betz cells?" Seriously, the entire lecture was about motor functions and you pick out the most useless trivial questions to ask on the midterm?
The rest of Simmons's questions consist pictures of the structures straight out of the two textbooks,so as long as you memorize every god damn picture you'll get some points. Even then, the pictures are in black and white so it's near impossible to make out what specifically he's asking you to identify. However, they do project the pictures onto the screen in front of the classroom, however the picture appear in a sequence and are only available for two minutes before the slide changes to another picture, so you have to time your answering of questions to when you want to look at pictures.
Simmons is also useless at office hours. I went to both his and Mayumi and at least she gave me straight answers. Simmons gives you vague answers, or he'll go off on a completely unrelated tangent, and not answer your initial question at all.
Bottom line, this class is inherently hard to begin with. You need to study a good 2 hours every day, and you are going to have to skip some Thursday and Friday night parties. However, Mayumi's part of the course are entirely doable, so if you study hers real well, the only issue is Simmons, and almost everyone gets a majority of his questions wrong. I studied like how I had studied for LS2 and LS3 for the first midterm and got a 69, 70 was the average. I studied as though I were studying for the MCAT for the second one and got a 77 the average being a 60.
All in all, Simmons is horrible, and there's almost no way to avoid him. However, go to your TA's office hours and Mayumi, and study every fucking day. I mean it. Also, try and take only 3 classes, you'll have to take 101A and 102, and take a GE for your last class, I took a GE for mine, and it was the only reason I was able to sleep at night.
For all of you guys taking 102 next year, good night and good luck.