• chem,  prereqs,  UTM

    check yourself before you (pre)req yourself

    Hi, I am a first year going into the chemical and physical sciences program at UTM. I am looking to take a specialist in Biological Chemistry after the first year so I looked at the classes I should take. The problem is that many of the math courses require a minimum of 70% in Advanced functions and this past year I had an awful teacher and received my worse high school mark of 66% in her class. I also took Calculus and got an 83%. Will I be able to take the math courses?


    hey there!

    congrats on committing to u of t and starting the lil adventure that is university!

    for a question like this, i’d recommend reaching out to the UTM chemistry department (probably the undergrad program administrator, specifically) and asking about your case. i’m not sure how they deal with situations like this, and it would be best to go directly to the source. there’s a chance you might need to take an online high-school level advanced functions course and get a higher grade in order to meet the prerequisite? but they’d be the ones to confirm that.

    i wouldn’t recommend registering in the course without the prerequisite, because departments will usually go into your records to check that you’ve met the requirements. if they find out that you don’t, you’ll be removed from the course with no warning, which will cause you a lot of unnecessary stress. 10/10 would not recommend.

    i hope the chem department is able to shed some light on what you should do! good luck with this.

    be Boundless,


  • chem,  engineering,  grad school

    i had to google submatriculate, but i think i’m still qualified to run this blog

    Hi! I’m a (possibly) incoming UTSG artsci freshman who has too many academic interests. Firstly, would it be possible to do a 2nd major (or minor or 2nd degree) in biomedical engineering? Secondly, is there a way to submatriculate into an MSc program from chem/biochem specialization? Lastly, is there some way for me to skip the introductory courses (apart from transfer credit)? Sorry for ruining your day with a barrage of obscure questions! ?


    hey hey,

    lmao i feel like 40% of the people on this site are in some kind of serious academic trouble, and 20% are keeners like you (very kind, apologize too much, interested in literally everything). don’t worry, you’re not ruining my day with a barrage of obscure questions. i thrive on obscure questions. we cool.

    i’m not aware of any option to take biomedical engineering in conjunction with an artsci program. to even be eligible for biomedical engineering as a minor, you need to be in one of the core 8 engineering programs or in engsci. the biomedical systems engineering major, meanwhile, has hella requirements. you only get to enter it after two full years of engsci foundational courses. i can’t imagine an artsci kid juggling that on top of another major, even if it were allowed. i suppose you can get in contact with the department if you really wanna know for sure, but i think the answer is unfortunately no on this one.

    to address the lil’ musing about second degrees you seem to have thrown in…. i’m not really sure if a second degree is really what you wanna do, even if you’re super thrilled about everything. i have a feeling your first degree will tire you out a lil, or at least enough to make you wanna reconsider. especially doing a second degree in engsci, i dunno man, it seems like a lot. and then when you add the amount of student debt you’d be carrying after one degree, let alone two… yikes. just some things to consider, yknow? hang on to the second degree thought until you’re close to doing your first degree. then, if you still want to do a second degree, talk to the academic advisers at your registrar and get a lil guidance on it. that would be my take.

    as for the submatriculation thing… i was unable to find any info on this via the big ol’ world wide web. so i reached out to someone who’s pretty well connected in the chem department, and they told me that they’re not aware of any submatriculation options within chemistry. even if you’ve been working underneath the same supervisor for a long time and hope to do a phd with them, you’ll still need to actually apply to admissions to do so. i’m not sure if it’s different in biochem, but like i said, there doesn’t seem to be any readily-available internet info on this, which suggests that the answer is no submatriculation. once again, i would reach out to the department if you want a super solid answer, though. chem contact info linked here, biochem info linked here.

    in terms of skipping required introductory courses without transfer credit… i would say the answer is also probably no, otherwise a ton of people would be doing it. i’m assuming you’d be wanting to do this in order to take a wider breadth of courses, or something? introductory courses tend to have some pretty important information, and even if you could skip out on them i wouldn’t recommend it– the foundation you get in those huge first year courses tends to be quite important for the academic work you’ll be doing later on in your degree.

    but once again, you could contact the department running the course and ask, if you have a super duper legitimate reason to be skipping an intro course.

    this whole post has been an enormous “pls ask someone else” but i hope my insights have at least been… insightful! keep that excited, i-love-everything energy. it’s refreshing, and makes my brain feel a little less melty. wishin’ you all the best as you weigh your options for next year!

    be Boundless and stay healthy,


  • academic success,  chem

    does anything make sense anymore

    I recently got my midterm mark back from CHM135 and as expected I did horrible. I got a 39.22% (it’s my fault for slacking off full-time). Apparently the labs are “easy marks” but I’ve gotten a 79% on my first one and my friend told me that it’s pretty bad. I’ve never really been good at labs, but I’m willing to improve.

    I’m extremely anxious about the next midterm and the exam. Is it still possible to pass the course with a 60-65%? (How do I calculate how much I should get for next assessments to get this mark?).

    Thank you.



    oh man, we’ve all been there. it’s tough, but you’ll get through it.

    a great tool that i’ve used in the past to figure my sh*t out is this grade calculator. basically, you just enter the marks that you currently have and  how much the assignments are worth, and it’ll calculate that you currently have in the course. there is also an option to see what you’d need to get on the rest of the assignments in order to achieve a certain mark and an option to see what your final course mark would be if you got a certain average on the rest of the assignments. i hope that makes sense. it’s hard to explain. just check out the link above.

    confused k-pop GIF

    i highly suggest going to your prof/ TA’s office hours to discuss strategies for success. i know that that’s super intimidating and scary, but trust me, it’s worth it. it’s always a good idea to talk to the people who’re actually grading you to get a sense of how you could get better grades. profs/ TAs are always happy to see students and to help them out.

    you should also check out the academic success centre. they’re a great on-campus resource that is sadly and criminally underused. you can make appointments with learning strategists, attend workshops, and meet up with peer mentors– all of which can help you improve your grades and help you become more…. academically successful.

    i hope this helps you out! good luck!



    PS- don’t forget that the last day to drop or CR/NCR any F courses without academic penalty is november 5th!!

  • admissions,  chem

    relative to what

    are sciences relatively hard to get into? chem in particular


    hey there,

    i dunno man. i guess that depends on how smart you are, doesn’t it? and how smart everyone else who applies this year is.

    unfortunately, i don’t know how smart you or anyone else is. i don’t know a lot of things. i’m not very smart, myself.

    the only thing i can do is direct you to this year’s anticipated grade ranges for people admitted to uoft in 2014. i’m tempted not to give this link out for the umpteenth time, but i’ll do it, ’cause i’m kind. you can use those numbers as a rough guide to figure out how you measure up to the pack.

    chemistry is not something you can apply to out of high school at uoft. if you wanted to get into chemistry, you could apply to the life science or physical/mathematical sciences streams out of high school.

    from there, you could apply to a chemistry specialist/major/minor after first year. if you want to know how difficult it is to get into those programs, you can read about them on the course calendar.

    here’s a tip: look up whether the specialist/major/minor is/are type 1, 2 or 3. type 1 is automatic admission, type 2 has certain prerequisites for admission, and type 3 has requirements, plus the program only has a limited number of spots.

    here’s hoping uoft has a positive REACTION to your application! get it? get it?



  • chem,  first year,  math,  summer,  UTM

    quaking in my boots for summer school

    How difficult are chem110/120 & mat134 during summer school at utm?!? I really need some advice :(


    hey there,

    well, if you’ll allow me to get a little PHILOSOPHICAL here, difficulty is kind of a relative thing. i don’t know what you specifically find hard. BUTTT if you’d like to know generally how difficult the classes will be, i suggest you take a look at the course descriptions (chem 110, chem 120 and mat134; these aren’t for summer 2014, but they should give you a general idea of the course content).

    just read the course descriptions and consider your own abilities. did you struggle with stoichiometry in high school? what about titrations? if you struggled with anything in the course descriptions, maybe brush up on some grade 12 problems to review. same goes for math.

    HOWEVER keep in mind that the classes will most likely have a little bit of review incorporated into them already, and you can get that just from the course description. for example, any ontario calculus class should have taught the fundamental theory of calculus, and that’s in the course description for mat134. so they definitely won’t just be throwing you into the deep end.

    the second thing to consider is the speed – most summer classes proceed at roughly twice the pace of a fall/winter class. do you think you can keep up with that speed? i mean you’ll also be going to class more often, so there won’t be LESS CLASS TIME, but it will be a bit CONDENSED.

    these are all things to consider, but at the end of the day, there’s shouldn’t be a huge difference between the summer classes and fall/winter classes. if you think you need to review, go for it, but i wouldn’t worry too much. if you work reasonably hard and make sure to keep up with the pace of the class, you’ll be alright. have a little faith in yourself.



  • chem

    coo coo for chemistry!

    Hey Aska,

    So, I did horribly on my first chem midterm for chm138 and decided that I would drop it before the drop date, I am now thinking of taking it in the summer. Do you think that is a good idea? Would it be harder? Easier in the summer? I know the work load will be a lot more intense as things will move by fast, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to handle it. Or do you suggest that I take chm138 next semester and chm139 in the summer? Please help!



    Hey hey!

    To be completely honest, I think it’ll be harder if you try to take CHM138 in the summer. I don’t have anything concrete I can link you to, but judging by your situation, if you had trouble during the normal-paced version, an accelerated course might not be the greatest idea.

    But if CHM138 is offered next semester, I strongly recommend taking it and then basing whether or not you want to take CHM139 in the summer off of that experience.



  • biology,  chem

    up, up and away … to summer school

    Awhaddup, AKSA?!

    I am a grade 12 student and have been accepted to U of T’s faculty of Social Science! I applied to social science with plans to study economics, but have discovered that I still want to do science courses. Basically, I planned my grade 12 courses around a social science application but still want to do science. I’ve taken chem, advanced functions and calculus & vectors, but left phyiscs out. As a result, I’m going to be taking the full course this july. Apparently OUAC knows that I’m registered for my summer course and will pass on the good news, but when do I select my courses for next year? will I be able to choose ones like chemistry and physics even though I’m in social sciences?

    Many thanks!

    No matter how many times I’ve been asked what’s up, I always firstly think of what is literally up.

    Side Bar Ted

    Five things that are currently “up”

    – gas prices

    – the sun… moon … other solar thingers

    – tuition

    – keener’s hands in class

    – 15 year old boys looking at a photo of Megan Fox

    You will likely choose your courses in late July. This summer, first years found out their start times on July 15th and their course enrolment was on July 25th. So, it is likely that similar dates will apply for next summer.

    You don’t actually declare your subject POSt until you have completed 4 full credits (so after first year). Most first year courses then, are not restricted. However, they have ‘priority’ indicators on the courses. This means that certain students get first dibs, but if there is still space you can still have chance to get in.

    You can look here to see the enrolment indicator.

    The fact that you’re taking the course in the summer won’t effect you being able to take courses in the fall.

    snuggles and whisky,


  • chem,  first year,  grades

    Stinkin’ Chemistry

    Hi aska,

    So I’ve just gone through the first 2 months at utm, and I failed my first Chem mid-term test worth 7% of my final mark, which I’m not too proud of. My goal is to graduate with a CGPA of 4.0 in 4 years time (doing a Physics Specialist). So my main question would be what is a general formula for one to tackle the insane first year science courses to squeeze out a 4.0 while staying sane in the process (e.g how to be more efficient, how to maximize my resources) 😛 . Thanks xoxo


    Hi there poor, poor Chemistry Student,

    There’s a few things that you can do.
    1) Time management is a huge, HUGE aspect of doing well. Make sure you allot more time for things that are going to give you some trouble.

    2) Connect with a Physics Major – ask a 4th year student how they possibly managed to survive 4 years of hell. You can probably go to one of your profs and they can recommend someone for you.

    3) Surround yourself with people who have the same goals as you – its easier to be a study bug if the people around you are also in a study cave and not out at a rave (a little Dr. Seuss moment for you there)

    4) Study snacks (they seriously keep you going)

    5) Coffee and Baileys (Caffeine and good taste)

    6) Have dancing, video gaming, beer ponging breaks so you don’t completely lose your mind

    7) realize that you’re not the only one in this position (take for example the kid in the post below your … also thinking that Chemistry is being a little bitch)

    8) apparently you can’t have an eight with a bracket without it becoming a cool dude face, BUT WHATEVER, we like sunglasses

    UTM has Chemistry department advisers and i BET they love helping you develop a good work ethic.

    9) St. George offers seminars on time management, developing study work ethics, how to be more effecient etc. So I would suggest looking into the UTM academic Learning Center as I’m sure they will offer help in similar topics

    Good Luck!


  • chem,  courses,  med school

    someone get this student 10 mojitos and a backrub

    Ok, heres the deal. I have major issues on deciding where I want to go in life
    (ex. career). I’m entering 2nd year and I’m torn on whether to study something
    like architecutre/english or human biology. Firstly, I am bad at math and I am
    frightened of CHM139. Plus, I dont want a crappy GPA at the end of my undergrad
    so that it hinders my competitveness for grad schools. I feel, or I should say
    engrained, that getting a BSC is like so godly where as a BA is like for stupid
    or lazy people. AHHH. Am I being lazy for not wanting to enter biology despite
    the fact it interests me? Plus, I know that our undergrad programs don’t matter
    for law/medical schools, but in reality how many non-science undergrads actually
    make it into med school?

    Thanks for the advice wise one lol!

  • chem,  choosing,  physics,  tutorials

    from top to bottom: the journey of the student

    I’m doing first year life science and is it ever a kick in the pants. I come from top of my class and am probably near the bottom here. If my TA is completely useless where do you suggest I go to get help in Chemistry or Physics? I’m also concerned about applying to second year programs…what kind of of marks do they look for, how hard is it to compete for a space?