Retaking Prereq Courses After Transfer? (UCSD to Berkeley)

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Jul 11, 2018
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I've just been admitted to UC Berkeley as an inter-UC transfer from UCSD for Fall 2020 as undeclared in the College of Letters and Science. I've spent a lot of time lurking on SDN and reddit pre-med forums, but I was not able to find answers pertaining to my particular case.

I know that transferring is usually viewed as detrimental due to having to rebuild connections, research, etc. However, I am transferring because I am a non-STEM premed major(African American Studies), which is not a program of study offered at UCSD, and I only started being premed my sophomore year of college (fall 2019).

For background, I took two quarters of general chemistry w/o lab at UC San Diego, and the UC Berkeley biology adviser told me that it is highly unlikely this would transfer over as first semester general chem at UC Berkeley since these courses don't cover everything covered by Chem 1A at Cal.
In addition, I took two quarters of general biology w/o lab (BILD 1+ 3): obviously there is no direct equivalent at Cal, so I wold probably have to take BIO 1A/AL and BIO 1B at Cal.... I'm just glad that I finished 3 quarters of physics w/lab at UCSD so I don't ever have to worry about that.

My main question is, how is it viewed to have to retake premed prereqs, even though I did fairly well in all of them? All of the forums I come across talk about retaking because they earned a C or a D the first time they took it. However, I earned an A in both of my biology courses and B+ in both quarters of general chemistry. In my current situation, it seems like the only way I would be able to fulfill "one year of general biology w/lab" and "one year of general chemistry w/ lab" would be to retake EVERYTHING in these two subjects from scratch.

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The UC system is pretty good about transferring credits between each other. I would talk to another advisor at Berkeley before you retake your prereqs
That may be true, but you need the labs to apply to medical school.

If you were to find a place to take the labs only, that would probably be okay. If you retake the classes so you can get the labs, that's fine too as there's a very clear reason why you needed to re-take classes. The easiest option would be to try to find a school that offers lab classes only if yours doesn't.
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Thank you for the advice and suggestions.

Just an update: my BILD 1 and BILD 2 classes at UCSD are classified as equivalent to BIO 1A at UC Berkeley, and Chem 6A and Chem 6B and deemed equivalent to Chem 1A at UC Berkeley.
Thank you for the advice and suggestions.

Just an update: my BILD 1 and BILD 2 classes at UCSD are classified as equivalent to BIO 1A at UC Berkeley, and Chem 6A and Chem 6B and deemed equivalent to Chem 1A at UC Berkeley.
Great, so can you take just the lab classes?
Great, so can you take just the lab classes?

Sort of, yes. For biology, I am thinking of just taking an upper-division biology class and an upper-division biology laboratory class, not BIO 1AL because I heard it's horrible. And there is no "BIO 1BL" since BIO 1B is a lecture/lab combined class, unlike BIO 1A/AL. So if I for some reason decided to take BIO 1AL, I would still have to take BIO 1B completely or an upper-division bio lab class, since BIO 1AL itself does not count for a year of lab.

For Chemistry: yes, I can just take CHEM 1AL, and move onto Chem 3A/AL, etc. However, whether this "unique sequence" will be accepted by med schools is a whole other story... this is because my two quarters of general chemistry is out of a year-long 3-quarter general chemistry sequence. So technically, it is not a whole year of general chemistry, but it would be equivalent to Chem 1A at Berkeley.... I have just posted about this asking for advise on SDN a few hours ago, and I have emailed the prehealth advisors at Berkeley, as well as the person who manages the unique chem sequence in terms of med schools.

Edit: I think I would probably want to take Chem 1A at UC Berkeley rather than just go directly to Chem 3A anyways. There is just too much uncertainty about whether or not my two quarters of gen chem would be accepted as an actual equivalent of Chem 1A along with Chem 1AL, Chem 3A/AL, Chem 3B/BL, and MCB 102 by medical schools (especially given UC Berkeley's weird shortened chem sequence) If that were to happen, I would probably have to take Chem 1B at UC Berkeley, or at CC, and I think that would be something I would want to avoid all together. Another deciding factor is that, Looking at the syllabus of Chem 1A, I see that my two quarters of chemistry did not cover topics such as electrochemistry or kinetics: these are labs covered in Chem 1AL that I would not be familiar with, and I would think this lack of exposure would make me vastly underprepared for Chem 3A.
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You wouldn't need BIO 1AL to count for a year of lab--because BIO 1B integrates lab into the class, it would count for one semester of general bio lab. BIO 1AL would give you the remaining semester of general bio lab.

If you're planning to apply to the UCs for medical school you might be okay with skipping general bio lab as they seem to have competency focused prerequisites, but that won't necessarily be the case at all medical schools. At my state school for example (Academic Requirements), one year of general bio with lab is required, and you're not going to be able to fill that prerequisite by taking other lab classes. I think this is something you should talk over with your pre-health advising office as well.

I agree it's probably smart to start over with the Berkeley chemistry sequence. It's already kind of weird, and adding additional weirdness on top of that risks your ability to fulfill chemistry prerequisites.
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