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I took this class to see if I wanted to major in CS and it really convinced me. However, I must admit that I took this class because I received an email that scared me into taking it. It said that incoming freshman with no CS experience should take this class over CS 31. It really is made for people who know nothing about programming and it really taught me a lot. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the class. The homework is really easy and never took a lot of time. The midterms and finals were really easy in my opinion. I don't think you REALLY need to take this class because CS 31 isn't too tough. But this class provided me a strong foundation in basic programming skills and Python which is a language valued by a lot of people. One downside is that it doesn't get into object oriented programming in Python but to be fair there isn't time to do everything. Overall fun class that taught me a lot.
I had zero coding experience prior to UCLA, so I had a difficult time choosing between CS31 and CS97. I ended up taking 97 (obviously) and I'm actually really glad I did. Professor Millstein does a great job of creating a strong base of coding knowledge and clearly explaining more difficult concepts. The class was Python-based and covers recursion, arrays, loops, lambda functions and map/list/reduce. While participation isn't mandatory during lectures, I'd recommend answering questions in class to get the most out the course. CS31 was pretty easy because I took 97 first, and having two languages (Python and C++) as a freshman looks great on a resume, so I'd definitely recommend taking it if you're feeling unsure. Plus, some of the concepts you learn in 97 aren't actually taught until CS32 or upper division CS classes, so it's cool to get a sneak peek so early in the year. Definitely would recommend taking CS97!