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The pre-requisite for the class is Math 31A, with a corequisite of Math 31B, but he somehow thinks that everyone in the class has a very good working knowledge of 3d integration, and things like that.
I did not like how there was no graded homework for any of the class. I also did not like how difficult the final exam was in comparison to the midterms.
I had a very high average on the two midterms, which were worth something like 50% of the grade, and was shocked to find out that I ended up with a B in the class.
He is also a bit rude in his office.
Overall, his lectures are confusing, and he brushes through too much math at once on his slides. Professors should really work out problems on the board to be forced to step through things like students do in their brains.
Professor Gekelman is a nice person and a fair lecturer. If you pay attention in class, there is no way you will not get an A for his class. A very fair grader with optional homework (this helps people like me a lot), he curves generously. Overall, a pretty good professor. On a scale of whether I'll recommend him to a friend, definitely!
Professor Gekelman IS a nice PERSON. I had a nasty bike accident during the quarter, I emailed him, and me and him worked out a deal immediately about what I would have to do for the course. However, in terms of physics, I cannot say I had the same affection. In high school I had taken both the C mechanics and EM and had gotten 5s in both. Even though I'm an engineer, I did flirt with the idea of becoming a physics major. I no longer have that ambition. Gekelman's lectures are uneffective, you can learn all you need by merely reading the textbook. Before the first midterm, I only attended 3 lectures total and got over 100. The second midterm I went to more lectures and got a C+. Then for the final I went to every lecture and according to my final grade I did well, but in terms of me being able to answer the final questions I was highly unable. Gekelman's lectures featured students falling asleep, scrambling to take notes on incredibly hard derivations, and some even playing counter strike.
One problem with Gekelman was that he was so concerned with merely the concepts. I have studied classical physics for almost 3 years now so I have a decent understanding of the concepts. To do well on his exams, you need to know every minute detail of the concepts. The questions will NOT be anything like you have done homework problems on,half of the exam is figuring out how to apply things. Only those fully versed in physics really have a shot at getting good scores. Thankfully on his exams he gave us an hour and a half. But really, just doing problems won't help you, you need to know the fundamentals and roots as well as the professor.
On the plus side he didn't use the online physics homework thing, so that's money saved.
Gekelman is a nice guy, tends to squeal in lectures. He is also a rather terrible physics professor. By terrible I mean his lecture is devoted to complex derivations of equations and tons and tons of algebra. The concepts are glanced over while the rest of the time is focused on algebraic derivations. Past experience with physics definitely helps out a lot. Physics B experience will carry students through the first 8 weeks, while Physics C experience will help in the last two. But by the last two weeks, it doesn't matter anymore, because he begins to spend most of his time on complex integrations, sometimes venturing into multivariable calculus territory. The last week was spent on black holes. Yes, black holes. So was the review session. Students without Physics C experience will definitely struggle a bit here.
The first midterm was relatively easy, the second midterm was much harder, and the final was a killer. All questions are variable-based; students will barely see any numbers on the tests. Homework is assigned weekly but is never due; he doesn't like Mastering Physics, which is a plus for quite a few people. Overall, most of the time spent on this class will be for studying. In fact, students feeling comfortable with physics don't really need to go to class that often.
In the end, avoid Gekelman if possible, because he supposedly gets a hell of a lot harder for 1B.