• distribution,  easy,  UTM

    *bill nye voice* inertia is a property of matter

    I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but for those of us who were maybe a bit naive and short-sighted in high school and didn’t take any Grade 12 U-level math or science courses: what are our options to fulfill the one science credit requirement? Preferably @ UTM. There’s a super-incredible course in CCIT (my intended major) that’s a science, but requires a first year intro to psych course, which of course requires 12U math and biology.


    hey there,

    well, if you’re keen on that super-incredible course, you can always take 4U math and biology in summer school/night school. (math is also available through a uoft program called PUMP, though we don’t have any equivalent for biology, unfortunately).

    buuuut going to school in the summer sucks, so let’s consider some other options, shall we?

    there are lots of introductory science courses which favour the strengths of a humanities or social science student (i.e. no scary math or graphs to be seen). most of these courses don’t require any high school science courses, or ask that you have any previous familiarity with the course material.

    a few of these courses include:

    ERS103H5: Geology and Public Issues (gain the skill to confidently sprinkle the term “anthropocene” into regular conversation)

    ENV100Y5: The Environment (learn how 2 have opinions about climate change)

    BIO201H5: The Biology Behind the News (learn to read and understand parts of the newspaper other than the comics and crossword sections. next – a course on understanding the Financial Times)

    PHY100H5: What’s Physics Got to do with It? (for those who “want to gain insight into this interesting and important field in a non-intimidating way.” no five kinematic equations for you.)

    and there’s plenty more. note that you don’t have to take a first-year course, but upper-year courses generally have prereqs, so do keep that in mind.

    when you get a chance, spend some quality time with the course calendar and see if you find any other courses that spark your interest – and don’t have any pesky prerequisites attached.

    to make sure a course fills your science distribution requirement, check whether it’s labelled ‘SCI’ – only these courses will count towards your distribution requirement.

    happy hunting!


  • easy,  first year,  GPA,  seminars

    aska tells you how to live a bomb-diggity life

    Hi Aska!
    So the start of the new school year is upon us and Universities have started coming to my high school convincing us their school is right for us. I am really interested in UofT Life Science program and want to become a doctor when I’m older. However I’ve been hearing horror stories from friends and off the internet about UofT and its Life Science program. I’m an 80% – 85% type of student. I’m confused whether to come hear. I just want to know if it is possible to get good grades in this school and if there are actually easy courses here that can boost my GPA. And What are these “easy” 1st year seminars i’m hearing about.



    hey there,

    Oh, man. I remember what it’s like to be in your shoes, my friend, and I’m glad you’ve come here for advice. See, the universities are all going to be telling you a variation of the same thing, because they want your sharp little brain at their school – but I don’t care one way or another (no offence xoxo) so I’m going to be straight with you.

    The UofT Life Science program is great, and if you’re getting between an 80%-85%, the rule of thumb is that your average will drop 10-15% in first year (mine dropped from a 92% to an 82% between grade 12 and first year in a Biomedical Science program). That puts you between a 70% and a 75% – and that’s great! If you get out of first year with a mark like that, you should pat yourself on the back. As for keeping up your GPA, there are no secrets: just find out how you best study, and stick to it. It’s not impossible, trust me.

    Next, and I can’t stress this enough: DO NOT pick a course because it “sounds easy” or because random people online (not counting me obviously) say it’s a bird course. That includes first-year seminars. First-year seminars are super cool because they are much smaller than your typical first-year class, which means you’ll get to engage more with the prof and your peers. You’ll all be best buds and sing kumbaya together. It’ll be beautiful.

    However, if you just pick a random seminar you have zero interest in, the wonderful opportunities of first-year seminar will be a waste. If you find it boring, you won’t do the work, and you’ll zone out in class, and paying attention is a necessary component to doing well in any course, no matter how “easy.”

    Finally, my last nugget of wisdom: high school and university courses are a good way, but not a great way, to determine if you want to be a doctor. You know how you figure that out for sure? By actually being one. There are lots of ways to do this: volunteer at a hospital, join the UofT Pre-Medical Society, and read up! If you’re finding that you’re not excited by doing any of this, then don’t do it. Just quit. There is absolutely no shame in that. Besides, no one likes a grumpy doctor.

    I hope that helped, and just remember: don’t stress, and don’t feel pressured to make certain decisions because other people are telling you to. Do your own thing, and I think you’ll find that you’ll be awesome at it because it belongs to you.

    Best o’ luck,


  • bird courses,  breadth requirements,  easy

    intro to ornithology

    What are these bird courses I hear of? Are they like a two in one breadth requirement fulfiller? And if sooo, what’s an easy class to fulfill 4 and 5 considering I hate math, love history and don’t mind a little science?




    Bird courses are basically super easy courses. They’re courses people take because they have a free slot in their timetable and want something that isn’t really going to bust their CGPA.

    They certainly can fulfil two breadth categories, so long as the bird course in question is worth 1.0 FCE. So for example, if you take RLG100Y (which, according to some, is a bird course), you can satisfy 0.5 of credit requirement for both group 2 and group 3.

    Just note that it’s a bit hard to identify something as a “bird course.” It all really depends on whether or not you can consider World Religions to be a bird course, right?

    Bird courseiness is based on the content, your learning style, yada yada yada.

    But if your interest in bird courses has to do with getting groups 4 and 5 out of the way since I’m going to assume you’re a humanities or social sciences student, here are a few suggestions from myself and another aska incarnation who I nagged for their picks!

    Admittedly, a few of these aren’t quite “bird courses” so much as they are “more approachable sciencey ones” that can be conquered by the clueless humanities/social science student.


    AST101H The Sun and its Neighbours (Group 5)
    aska: “Why did you find this course easy? What did you learn?”
    Potentially high on oregano oil student: “I learned that we are all made of stardust.”
    aska: Well okay then!

    AST201H Stars and Galaxies (Group 5)
    aska: “And this course?”
    PHOOOS: “Basically a regurgitation of The Sun of its Neighbours […] Also, in the lecture, you look at these beautiful slides of the stars and the skies! It’s totally like…Big Bang Theory comes to Con Hall! OMG QUOTE ME.”

    ANT100Y Intro to Anthropology (Group 3 + Group 4)
    aska: “Amazing course. I loved it. AMAAAAAZING.”
    PHOOoS: “Linguistic and socio-cultural parts were so easy, but the bio was a biiiit tough.”

    EEB202H Plants and Society (Group 4)
    Nameless Student Who Seemed to Really Like the Course: “It was like the prof liked plants more than people!”
    2011-12 Anti-Calender: General words of praise and an 81% retake rate.

    And then some other things I’ve been told were great:

    • PCL102H The Art of Drug Discovery (Group 4)
    • EEB204H Diversity of Living Organisms (Group 4)
    • EEB214H Evolution and Adaptation (Group 4)
    • JUM205H Mathematical Personalities (Group 5)
    • CSB202H Further Exploration in Biotechnology (Group 4)
    • CHM101H The Chemistry and Biology of Organic Molecules: Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll (Group 5)



  • easy

    I Like U of T How I Like My Men/Chicks, Easy …. to love that is

    I just have a quick question about selecting your program on OUAC.
    So I want to go to UTSG next year, but I’m also not really sure what I want to study. I know for sure that I don’t want to focus on science, but I definitely want to take some science courses. I know that even if I’m not enrolled in a science program I can still take a science course. But if I get into humanities or social science, for example, does that limit the number of science courses I can take? Am I required to complete a certain number of humanities/social science courses, or can I just go with the flow and take whatever I want as long as I have the high school prerequisites? To be honest, I actually have no idea what I want to do with my future. I have an idea of the things that interest me, but I don’t want to sign up for four years of life science and regret it, and not be able to do the things I actually want to do.
    I also want to have the best possible chance of getting into UTSG, so if you had any suggestions at all, I’d really appreciate it!
    Thanks in advance!



    U of T actually, kind of, sort of understands that most students don’t really know what the hell they want to do with their lives. You don’t have to determine your subject POSt until the end of your first year… meaning you don’t reaaaally have to decide on your major until then.

    If you don’t know that you 100% want to be in science or humanities and are mainly looking at just getting accepted any darn way, I would apply for the easier program. You mentioned both Life Sci and Humanities. It’s easier to get into Humanities and you can always switch into Life Sci later. Once you’re already in the school it’s easier to switch between departments.

    Obviously there are limitations … it wouldn’t be U of T without them. First off some courses have enrollment limitations (so students in the program get first dibs). This doesn’t really matter all that much in first year, because the classes are usually massive.

    I feel like I had another limitation …. oh geez …. brain fart …


    well and make sure you select a program offered at UTSG … some fools don’t pay attention and wind up at another campus.

    gossip girl… i mean, aska

  • courses,  easy,  first year

    why machiavelli is the shit

    Hey quick question. I’m majoring in polisci and i have all my courses. I was wondering if you in all your greatness have heard anything about the first year seminar “machiavelli and the power game”. gimme some news on it if you have any. also, i heard from someone that university college has a secret passage way? is this true? thanks in advanced aska


    I am all powerful, but have not heard of this Machiavelli seminar before. Any aska readers out there care to divulge in the comments section?

    I did however, find a review of the class in the 2008 anti-calendar. No direct comments but the class gave the seminar a retake rate of 80% with a 3.1 grade of workload and a 3.5 grade of difficulty! Machiavelli is also, like, the shit.That guy terrorized everyone!

    The professor is the same this year, so conceivably it is pretty much the same course. On Rate My Professor, Olga Pugliese (the prof) is described as “very knowledgeable, attentive and nice”, though one student complained about the amount of student presentations for what sounds like the actual class.

    Read this and take it with a grain of salt:

    She doesn’t teach!! The entire course was other students giving presentations!! NOT what I signed up for… I didn’t pay almost $1000 for that. Class puts me to sleep and class participation is sooo low, which is really bad because it’s a seminar so it should be fairly high. Most of the students don’t come to the class.

    xoxo, Askastudent

    P.S. I have not heard of this secret passage way, though I do believe it could exist. The basement there stretches on for hours!

  • breadth requirements,  easy,  first year,  math

    not good with numbers…

    Hello –

    I’m coming to U of T this autumn & I was wondering if you knew if the first year seminar *PMU199H1 F *”mathematical explorations” is difficult? Or anything about the course? The “not for calculus students” could be deceptive, and I’m really, really bad at math. I’m taking it to fulfill my BR=5 requirement but I’m a little apprehensive.

    Help is much appreciated!


    Hi there and welcome to the amazing and fantastic University of Toronto! While your class doesn’t seem like it was offered last year (and therefore wasn’t reviewed in the anti-calendar), many classes that seem similar to it were reviewed favourably. Essentially by taking a first year seminar to fulfill your BR=5 requirement, you are going for the easiest and best way possible to obtain that credit. First year seminars are notoriously easier, with more attention paid to students. The course description definitely makes it sound like it will be easy for you, and the small class size will make it easier to ask questions. If you take a look at the anti calendar, you’ll find favourable descriptions for all the 199y classes in terms of easiness and engagement with the subject matter. Math is super boring and hard to do (FYI: I am an arts student), but if you’ve gotta do it, a first year seminar is the best way to go.

    Best of luck!

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • anti-calendar,  distribution,  easy

    i need easy classes, fast


    I would like to ask you questions on choosing courses.

    I only took 3.5 -credits last year as a first year – so this 2010-2011 I am still technically a first year!

    I still need to take courses to meet my distribution requirement – and I need a course in Humanity and a course in Social Science.

    I was wondering what courses to take!

    My potential POSts are psych spec/maj and eeb major.

    I was eying ‘woman and gender studies’ (wgs100y1) for HUM and ant100y1/ant200y1/ant203y1 for SOCSCI.

    I looked into first year seminars (it turns out I can still take first year seminars) but I don’t think there aren’t any interesting ones.

    Are first year seminars relatively easier to get better marks and generally, easier than other courses?

    I read the syllabus for Lord of the Rings seminar last year and was surprised that you had to read one LOTR book in around every week and a half.

    ach.. I don’t remember if you majored in architecture or archaeology or anthrology.

    Would you give me some suggestions as to what I should do here?

    Do you recommend any other courses to meet the requirements?

    I am looking for ‘not-insanely-hard’ or ‘much-writing-assignment’ courses. I dont’ think I am good at writing essays.

    Could you please ask anyone who took WGS100y1 or first/second year ant courses and how they are?

    I read at some post of yours that ant100y1 course has no essays and watches lord of the rings..


    Thank you for your help.

    I wish you a jolly fine day.


    Hi there. Your question is a bit confusing, but I think I understand what you are getting at here: easy courses for your Humanities and Social Science requirements. (Note: this is pre breadth requirements.) I disagree that you can’t find an interesting First Year Seminar. I mean, there’s one on vikings, dude. Generally people find the courses easier because of the smaller, more contained environment. Having less students in the class means more attention from the professor. And because most of the subjects are light and breezy, the coursework and reading material doesn’t seem as tough.

    Peruse this list and reconsider.

    I don’t know anyone who has taken WGS 100Y1, or ant100y1/ant200y1/ant203y1, so you’ll just have to consult the anti calendar for feedback on these classes here. Other recommended humanities and social sciences classes that are distribution credit friendly are DRM 100 (first year drama), ABS 201 Y (intro to aborginal studies), ENG 140Y (lit for our time), FCS 195H1 (french culture from Napeoleon to Asterix). GGR 107H1 is a geography class with a 89% retake rate that will get you half a social science credit! The Urbanization follow up was also well received.

    Hope that helps and good luck with meeting all your requirements.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • courses,  easy,  english

    can’t read good, is hard english?

    how would you rate the difficulty in english at u of t? as well, do you think you can give some advice to me since i’m planning to major in english? thank you :D!


    English related quandery: do you think the late David Foster Wallace would have eventually added emoticons to his writing style? Hmm…

    Okay, so being the intrepid Aska that I am, I investigated the question by asking English-alum, current Walrus intern and all-around babe Naomi Skwarna for her advice. Here’s what Naomi says about English at U of T:

    It varies from prof-to-prof, subject-to-subject.

    A Few Thingies I Know to be True:

    There will always be a lot of reading

    You will always do better if you take at least one critical theory class

    Pick professors who you like, not subjects

    It’s not hard like science-hard, but it is time-consuming and potentially

    Compared to other University English programs, the material seems more
    conservative, and grading is considerably harder. This is what I hear from
    people at other schools

    Hope that helps!
    Thanks Naomi! If you’re interested in English and want to read works that are in translation, be sure to peruse the offerings at the Literary Studies program at Victoria College, particularly David Gilmour’s “Love and Sex In The Short Story” class. Sizzling.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • easy,  languages

    University is About Taking Risks

    Hello, im taking GER100Y1 and im wondering if its a hard or easy course. i really dont know what to expect. any insight for the course?



    Hello. You’ll notice on the Arts and Science calendar that the course description says that the course will be intensive. Now obviously there is some subjectivity in how intensive the course will be for everyone, but I’m guessing you’d need to put in a substantial amount of work into the course. According to the syllabus, you can’t even skip a lot of classes because you’d be given a participation mark. 🙁 What a bummer.

    Still. I would say if you have a genuine passion to learn a new language, do it. The results will be rewarding and the classes will be fun and immersive. You’ll have a lot of opportunities to speak the language during your classes and perhaps experience some German culture first-hand (maybe some German films, music, and the like). And the interest in the language that you share with your classmates will probably net you a few close friends or two. Besides, you’re in University why not give it a try? University is not all about marks; it’s also about taking risks, exploring new areas, and trying new things. If you don’t like the course or it turns out to be too hard, you can always drop it.

    Oh, and check out the anti-calendar. The course seems to have pretty high ratings, so if I were you, I’d give it a go. On the bright side, the “difficulty” rating seems to hover around 3-4, so maybe it’s not as “intensive” as they claim.

  • distribution,  easy,  first year

    Killing three birds with one keyboard.

    I’m a freshman starting this September for a Computer Science Program. I’m trying to look for a bird course that falls under Humanities or Social Studies. So far I’m looking at Intro to Sociology (SOC101Y) Any opinion regarding this course? I took AP Psychology in High School — will that help me in Sociology in terms of work load and such? Thank you

    im a second year student and i need a science credit as an elective. what are your recommendations for an easy 100-level or 200-level science credit


    can anyone please recommend me an EASY Humanity course and a Social Science course from UT and UTM?



    Here are just three (out of a billion) inquiries from students who want to either a) resuscitate their battered CGPAs, or b) preemptively suscitate their GPAs in the face of impending doom. Yes, suscitate is a real word.


    I am happy to recommend some avian courses (a more sophisticated take on the “bird course”), based on what I’ve done. However, Aska will gladly swallow his pride on this one and plead for any readers to pitch in their comments.


    The first thing that everyone should be aware of is the listing of courses designed to satisfy distribution requirements (Calendar pp.27-30). For example, the list “Humanities for Science and Social Science Students” indicates courses with less essay writing than one would expect in the Humanities category.


    If you like straight-up memorization, are willing to attend the lectures, and are a science nerd at heart, then consider taking CLA201H1: Latin & Greek Scientific Terminology. A Biochem friend said it was super interesting and applicable. Check out some of the past tests for this course. They are quite straightforward, albeit reeking of dorkiness.

    Science students also seem to do quite well in HPS courses – and so they should. It grounds their microscopic and/or abstract disciplines in a more humanistic context… so there!


    On the flipside, an easier science course (for Aska) was AST101H: The Sun & Its Neighbours as well as its counterpart (which bears a slightly more academic name) AST201H: Stars & Galaxies. These courses have been touted as easy since the dawn of time… or the Big Bang – I should say. However, I also know people who really struggled with them. The textbook is a fatty, but it’s a great keeper for the bookshelf (not quite coffee table caliber). Should you actually attend the lectures for these courses, your mind will be blown!! I swear. Picture one thousand humanities students in Con Hall with wide-eyes and gaping-mouths, totally mesmerized by a giant celestial image that bears a kaleidoscopic resemblance to a reproductive organ. You will also be able to contribute much more to any subsequent star gazing sessions on the rooftop of the Annex house that you’re renting for $525 per month plus utilities. I assuuuume.


    Okay those are Aska’s contributions, anyone else?!?!


    Oh, and I DO NOT recommend taking Sociology for an easy Social Science credit. I heard it is supposed to be super tough and multiple choice hell.


    One more thing! Take a first-year seminar!! Their small-scale, interactive, high-school style format is definitely most conducive to a good grade in your first year. And you can only enroll in them in your first year. So, TAKE ADVANTAGE. I think I laughed about ten times while reading this year’s options.

    Here are my (superficial) faves:

    Language and the Internet (… LMAO)

    Aha! Mathematical Discovery and Creative Problem Solving

    Words, Rhythm and Music: What Makes a Song?

    The Lord of The Rings: A Journey Through Middle Earth

    Observing Everyday Life


    How To Make a Human (…I won’t even touch this one)


    Seriously folks, you can’t pay for this kind of entertainment… Oh wait you can. It’s a flat fee of $4,991 plus incidentals.

  • courses,  easy

    It’s ROSI Time!

    Hi Askastudent,

    I am a life science student that is looking for an easy half courses that falls under the
    category of humanities? I am looking for something that is either a 100 or 200 and want
    to avoid writing as much as possible (it may be inevitable). Currently, I am looking at
    LIN 203H1 (English Words) and CLA 201H1 (Scientific Terms in Latin and Greek). What is
    your opinion on these courses and can you suggest anything else?