why is berkeley considered cutthroat?

<p>i never really got that. i doubt it's like Highlander where there can be only one. professors aren't rationing A grades to one person per class i hope. is it merely for the sake of competition or bragging rights?</p>

<p>From what I hear, some classes do in fact have grading quotas...mainly lower division engineering/science/math courses. However, the humanities people don't have to worry about this too much.</p>

<p>i have heard that once you get into your upper division course, the level of competition decreases. From my guess, I think it is because the weeder courses are all the lower division courses and the upper courses are courses for your major. Has anyone else hear about this???</p>

<p>My grades at Berkeley have generally been a mixture of As and Bs of varying sorts. Mostly Bs of late, but B+s nonetheless, simply because I don't buy into the overly competitive thing. I like having a life outside of school.</p>

<p>My classes aren't overly competitive, simply because I am in two smaller majors and they tend to be more cooperative cuz you are friends with ALMOST everyone.</p>

<p>So the smaller the major, the less competition there is?</p>

<p>hmmm, the quota thing just doesn't sound right. let's say there is a quota system in some lower division class. there can only be 10 a's, b's, and c's for the final grade. now...30 students are getting a's on all their work. is the professor is just gonna randomly give b's and c's to 20 students who deserve a's? a quota system just seems unlikely under that sort of scenario.</p>

<p>i understand if the classes are difficult and that it'll weed out those who can't hack it, but that seems to be more of a personal stuggle. can't really blame the other students if one doesn't understand the material.</p>

<p>Well, get used to it porcupyne. In those lower-division tech courses, especially those weeder courses, your scenario is impossible. Specifically, you won't have 30 students getting A's. The A's, by definition, are defined to be whoever in the class is doing the best. </p>

<p>Let me give you an example. I knew one guy who got an 89% on an exam in one of those lower-division weeder courses. Did he celebrate? Not at all - in fact, he almost cried. Why? Because the average score on that test was a 95%. Basically, his 89% was equal to a 'D' or a "Cminus". He actually knew most of the material. But it didn't matter. It's not about how well you know the material - it's about how well you know the material relative to how well everybody else in the class knows the material. If you know the material well, but everybody else knows it better than you do, then you will get a very bad grade. That's the game.</p>

<p>To be fair, I should point out that it also works the other way. I remember in ChemE 141: Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics (a legendarily difficult class), a guy got a 30% on an exam. Did he cry? Not at all - in fact, he celebrated. Why? Because the mean on the exam was a 25%. So his 30% was an 'A'. He didn't have a single clue what the heck was going on in the exam. But that didn't matter. He knew more than most of the other people, and ultimately, for the purposes of grading, that's the only thing that mattered. </p>

<p>The point is, in classes like these, it's not really about knowing the material. Your score on the exam means nothing. It's really about how well do you understand the material relative to how well the other people in the class understand the material. In other words, it's all relative. You can't just understand the material well in order to get an A. You have to actually beat out the people in the class who are also trying to get the A. That's the rules of the game. </p>

<p>We also have to nail down what we mean by competitive, otherwise we are just going to waste a lot of time talking past each other. My definition of 'competitive' is where grading tends to be based mostly on curves. Hence, I would not say that the smaller the major, the less competitive it is. Physics is a pretty small major, yet physics is highly competitive, in the sense that almost all physics courses, from start to finish, are curved (the curve tends to become more generous as you move up, but it's still a curve). Mathematics is a fairly small major too, yet mathematics is highly competitive in the same sense. On the other hand, there are majors that are quite large and are also well known for not only not being very competitive, but also for being easy cheesepuff gut majors where people can get excellent grades for doing very little work, and often times while barely ever showing up to class. I am not going to name those majors, but every Berkeley student knows what they are. </p>

<p>What I think is closer to the truth is that the more quantitative and technical the major, the more competitive it tends to get. Engineering, math, and the natural sciences are all quite competitive (in the sense that classes are almost always curved).</p>

<p>oh i see. it's curve based grading. so is that style of grading true of all the math/science/engineering courses or is it left up to the individual professor?</p>

<p>sakky, do you know if classes at UCLA or UC Davis are also curved to the same extent as Berkeley. Do these schools play the same "game rule" as Berkeley?</p>

<p>To mosharma134: It depends on what you mean by 'same extent'. It is definitely true that UCLA and UCDavis also do curving, particularly in lower-division technical courses. </p>

<p>Here is a snippet from Moochworld from a UCLA student.</p>

<p>"Is There REALLY A Curve?
You might have heard about this. I remember in my high school, curves were a myth. No such thing there. However, in college, yes, they are reality. Don't rely on them to save you. They are NOT THERE TO GIVE OUT A's. They are there to give out C's. Most classes are curved so that the average grade is a C+. This means if the average grade was a 50% (F), the professor may curve it to make the average grade 75% (C). I stress MAY. Impacted courses (high demand) such as chemistry and computer science will fail kids left and right and rarely have generous curves. Also, professors will curve some classes only to a C- or sometimes all the way up to a A-. It really depends on the professor and subject, and whether or not the course is a weeder.</p>

<p>Weeder?? What's That?
At UCLA there is something called a "weeder" class. "Impacted" courses (courses that have strict guidlines about adding or dropping them due to their high demand) are often "weeders." Most majors have at least one weeder course. Many have more than one (called "weeder series"). A weeder is a course that is designed to flunk out kids who aren't good enough for the major, thus "weeding" them out. FEAR THEM. You're at a school with the best and the brightest... and these courses are designed to flunk a big chunk of them out, of course not on an official level. Most of the time you won't know your class is a weeder until you go to UCLA for a while and you hear the rumor. I will do my best to inform you of what classes you may take as an incoming freshman that may be weeders. UCLA is a pre-med school... remember that. Anything here that is pre-med is *<strong><em>ING HARD. All of the chem courses are considered weeders. Computer science and engineering in general is considered one giant weeder. No, they do not get easier as you move up; in fact, they get really *</em></strong>ing hard. To illustrate, I have a friend who is a graduating senior, Electrical Engineer, I quote him saying, "A's? What is an A? I thought it went from F to C-." It's his last quarter here and yet at least once a week he won't come back from studying until four or five in the morning... and yet it's not midterm or finals season."</p>

<p>"Why Do You Keep Talking About "Harder As You Move Up?"
Amazingly, many majors get EASIER as you move up. This is because once you get through the weeder, they give you a break and the workload is only as hard as an "average" class. Certain majors aren't so lucky.</p>

<p>Back to Weeders...
I once took a weeder course in North campus (largely considered the "easier" side of campus). It is the weeder for the communications major (Comm 10). However, because this is an introductory weeder (anybody can take it), it is considered by many as North campus' hardest class. I didn't know this and I took it as an incoming frosh. I was quite scared. The material is ****ing common sense; you get a ton of it. I had 13 pages of single space, font 10 notes covering only HALF of the course (this is back when I was a good student and took notes). I was supposed to memorize the entire list including all the categories and how the list was arranged by them. And I did. Fearing it yet? My friend told me about his chem midterm... the average grade was a 16%.. No, they didn't fail the whole class; I'm sure they curved it so only half the kids failed. My freshman year, I met this friend of mine who was crying because she got an 76% on her math midterm. I told her that she should be glad she passed, she told me, "the average grade was 93%, the curve fails me." Weeders can have curves, as these three examples show... but only to make sure some people pass... and some fail. Famous weeders are courses like: Communications 10, Life Scienes 1 (and 2 & 3), Chemistry 14a (and all the subsequent ones get only harder), English 10a (OMG that class was hard), CS33, etc. Oh, and if you're wondering, my friend ended up getting a C- in her math class after studying her butt off. Lucky her!!!"</p>

<p><a href="http://www.moochworld.com/scribbles/ucla/16.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.moochworld.com/scribbles/ucla/16.html&lt;/a> </p>

<p>To porcupyne: It is always up to the individual prof, but most individual profs in math/science/engineering will curve. I would also point out that it isn't "really" up to those individual profs (which seems to contradict what I just said, so bear with me), in that the departments often times strongly strongly "suggest" that certain classes be graded with a certain curve. There have been numerous stories of profs getting into trouble with their own departments for grading too leniently and not giving out enough bad grades.</p>

<p>omg...the more i read about these "incidents", the more i feel like Chemical Engineering is going to be impossible. I just hope (and pray) that I don't have to change my major to something like "Scandinavian Studies" once I get into to Cal or UCLA.</p>

<p>Some majors are more cooperative than others, it's true.</p>

<p>Example: I am in German, and there are only about 40 of us and 10-12 in each class. As a general rule, we take a lot of the same courses over and over again and we tend to forge strong friendships. Same with my tract in American Studies. Though it is considered a fluff major, once you get into the seminars, they can be very rigorous and attendence is compulsory. </p>

<p>But as a general rule? I'll admit it, American Studies is pretty fluff if you don't take the right classes.</p>