LS 20/30A/30B/40 FAQs

LS 20/30A/30B/40 FAQs

LS 20: Quantitative Concepts for the Life Sciences

LS 30A and 30B: Mathematics for Life Sciences

LS 40: Statistics for Life Sciences

1) What is LS 20?
LS 20 (Quantitative Concepts for the Life Sciences) is a 5-unit course that provides an introduction to a variety of quantitative concepts that are relevant to biology. The course is designed to enhance quantitative skills that are essential for success in the life science, chemistry, math, and physics classes that make up the core curriculum for Life Science majors at UCLA. Biological examples will be used throughout, and students will gain an appreciation of the relevance of math to biology. Some students will benefit from taking LS 20 before taking LS 30A or Math 3A.

2) Is LS20 the same as Math 1?

No. Although both classes are intended to improve math skills, LS 20 emphasizes biological examples, whereas Math 1 (Precalculus) does not. A passing grade in Math 1 is required for students who were placed into this course based on the Math Diagnostic Test (MDT) in order to enroll in Math 3A or Math 31A. LS 20 cannot be substituted for Math 1 if a student wants to enroll in Math 3A or 31A later.

3) What will LS 30A and B satisfy?
Students can satisfy the math requirements for all current Life Science majors by completing one of the following sequences:

  1. LS 30A/LS 30B/LS 40 (recommended) OR
  2. LS 30A/LS 30B/STATS 13 OR
  3. Math 3A/B/C OR
  4. Math 31A/31B/32A.

4) Do I have to complete LS30A and LS30B before enrolling in STATS 13?
NO. STATS 13 can be taken at any time; there are no prerequisites other than high school math.
LS 30A is a prerequisite for LS 30B, however.

5) Can I use AP credit for Calculus to place out of LS30A/B?
No. The content of LS 30A/B includes some calculus but also much more (see answers to #7).

6) Do I need to pass the Math Diagnostic Test at a certain level in order to enroll in LS 30A?
No. Enrollment in LS 30A does not require taking the Math Diagnostic Test; placement into Math 1 on the MDT does not mean you cannot enroll in LS 30A. However, enrolling in LS 20 will likely enhance student success in LS 30A.

7) What is the difference between the LS 30 series and the Math Department classes?
The LS 30 series was conceived of and designed by faculty in the life sciences to provide LS majors with a broader and more contemporary set of quantitative skills that are matched to the needs of 21st century biology. This includes a heavier emphasis on computation and modeling, along with the fundamental concepts of calculus and a solid introduction to differential equations. Biological examples are used throughout and there are weekly computational labs. The Math Department classes do not have computational labs and place a greater emphasis on theory and providing a more in-depth understanding of calculus.

8) Will LS 30A/B count towards the Physics prerequisite?
Yes. Students who have completed LS 30A and B will be able to enroll in Physics 6A. In fact, research has shown that students who have taken LS 30A and B tend to perform better in Physics 6A than students who have taken the more traditional calculus courses.

9) Will LS 30A/B count towards the Chem 14B prerequisite?
Yes. Students who have completed LS 30A and B will be able to enroll in Chem 14B.

10) Will med schools accept LS 30A/B as fulfilling the math requirements for admission? 
As far as we know, yes. A letter was sent from the Dean of Life Sciences to the admissions offices of as many US medical schools as possible describing the LS30 + LS40 series and its content, and asking them to let us know if they would not accept it as fulfilling their requirements. None have indicated that they will not accept it. As has been done for chemistry and physics classes, when questions are raised by medical schools about an applicant’s preparation, we provide the admissions officers with copies of the course syllabi and that usually resolves the issue.

11) I already have credit for some/all of the Math 31A/3A series. Can I take LS 30A/B and will this count towards the prep for my major?
Because the amount of content overlap is fairly small between LS 30A/B and the Math 31A/3A series, it is possible to take the LS 30 series for full credit if you have completed one of the other series. However, because you may have already completed the math requirements for your major, LS 30 cannot be used for the same purpose, and you may need to complete coursework through the 3rd quarter of one of the sequences (e.g., 3C, 32A, or Stats 13 as shown in #1 above) to satisfy the prep if you havent already done so. You will get full credit for the classes. Because the content of LS30 is geared towards biological applications, students that are interested in quantitative biology will likely enjoy the class and it is excellent preparation for graduate school.

12) Does LS 30A satisfy the college Quantitative Reasoning requirement?
Yes.

13) I am considering doing a major or minor in the Physical Sciences. Should I take LS 30A/B?

No. Unfortunately, all majors in the Physical Sciences require the Math 31 series as prerequisites
for their major preparation.

14) Can I take more Math Department courses after taking LS 30A/B?

Yes! We have recently introduced a ‘bridge course’ called MATH M32T/LIFESCI M32 that allows you to transition back into the Mathematics Department courses beyond the Math 32 series, including more advanced courses in differential equations and linear algebra.

15) What is the difference between LS 40 and STATS 13?

LS 40 is significantly different from Stats 13. Stats 13 is a traditional statistics class, in which the student learns formulas to describe distributions of data under ideal assumptions. In LS 40, in contrast, distributions are not derived from ideal assumptions; rather, we use computer simulations to generate probability distributions that are tailored to the data at hand. The resulting approach is much better suited to the actual needs of life scientists, and provides much more concrete insight into the distributions. Overall, just like LS 30A/B, LS 40 puts a great emphasis on active learning, and utilizes the same programming skills that are learned in LS 30A/B.