18.03: Differential Equations

Table of contents

  1. Course Info
  2. Realistic Prerequisites
  3. Subject Matter
  4. Course Staff
  5. Lectures
  6. Problem Sets
  7. Exams
  8. Resources
  9. Grading
  10. Advice to Future Students

Course Info

Class Size 295
Hours/Week 9.5 (97 responses)
Instructors Joern Dunkel
Overall Rating 5.7/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • 18.01 knowledge is absolutely necessary.
  • 18.02 was helpful but not strictly required.
  • 18.06/linear algebra knowledge was not required but was useful.

Subject Matter

  • Useful in multiple fields and foundational.
  • Students found a nice mix of theoretical and applied content, but the theory was messier compared to the applications.
  • Examples across multiple disciplines and modeling of systems were provided in lecture.

Course Staff

  • The staff offered relevant exam preparation sessions.
  • The staff were helpful and approachable to most respondents.
  • Course staff seemed empathetic to student struggles and needs (e.g. extensions).
  • The staff answered emails promptly.


  • The lectures provided “background/overview,” but many students found recitation (in conjunction with MITx) to be the most useful.
  • Students found office hours useful in supplementing tools learned in class.
  • Some found the lectures to be concise and palatable.

Problem Sets

  • Collaboration was encouraged, and some found it useful to work in groups.
  • Some found it necessary to utilize MITx, office hours, and/or recitation to figure out the problems.
  • Students who found psets straightforward still commented on psets being “bashy” with “messy” numbers or algebra involved.


  • Students found that the exams got progressively more difficult as the semester progressed.
  • Practice exams and review sessions were important resources.
  • Students found the time pressure of exams to be stressful, especially factoring in the computations involved.


  • Most students found MITx to be a very useful resource.
  • Some felt that they learned most of the course through the readings and videos on MITx.
  • The lecture slides on Canvas were “extremely clear and a great study tool.”


  • Students found the grading transparent and very fair.
  • 55+ was passing, 70+ was a B, and 85+ was an A this semester.
  • There was a sentiment that poor exam performance was a reflection of improper preparation and not the students.

Advice to Future Students

    • Respondents stressed that students should put effort into finding a good recitation leader, attend recitation regularly, and attend office hours as well.
    • Some found that understanding applications helped to solidify understanding.
    • Students should attend lectures and stay up-to-date on the material, or the class could become too challenging.
    • For exams, the provided practice tests and notes should be reviewed seriously.