OCS In Review: Q and A

Although I’m done with OCS, I will be writing a few more posts to help out future candidates. Basically, these are the posts that have been requested, or that I just wish I had to read before OCS.

Q: I have a question about the PFT and the CFT. Are the events (like pull-up, 3 mile run and crunches) back to back or is there a rest period in between?

A: Excellent question. I have always gotten enough time to catch my breath, get some water and even do a little quick stretching in between. At OCS, you will have so much time in between events that the worry is muscles cooling too much if it is winter or fall, in my opinion. They take a few minutes to total everyone’s scores and give instructions for the following event. Hey get excited about the CFT-it is awesome and of course tough: gotta push yourself right?

Q: Were you planning on doing a blog about TBS?

A:  I don’t think I’ll do a whole blog on it. Preparation and mental preparation especially is so key to getting to and succeeding at OCS, that’s what I wanted to help other people with. For TBS, you’re prepared if you make it through OCS. And at OCS, they tell you enough of what you’ll be doing at TBS.

So it won’t get its own blog, but maybe I’ll put some periodic “TBS” posts on here, just for curiosity’s sake.

Q: Do you recommend CrossFit also to prepare for Marine Corps OCS.

A: Crossfit is a great workout program and might help some get ready for OCS (hey, better than nothing) but in my opinion, it does not prepare you for most OCS workouts except indirectly. I definitely do not recommend it for everybody. I would say to most people, you need to work on your bodyweight exercises for sure, and need lots of running for starters. After OCS, I highly recommend Crossfit for your general fitness.

Q: I was planning to go this summer to OCS. Do you know if the OSO’s really strict on speeding tickets

A: Speeding tickets aren’t a big deal until you get one during OCS on libo! I had two on my record and no one said anything about them (you should report them to your OSO.)

Q: I know I need a better PFT score. What helped you bring up your pull-ups?

A: What helped me with pull-ups was doing the Armstrong program (click for link.)

I also began incorporating weighted pull ups as I could do 20, 21, 22 reliably. Top Ten Pull Up Strength Builders.

Q: What was the gas chamber experience like?

A: Only enlisted do the gas chamber during boot camp. After OCS (OFFICER Candidate School) comes The Basic School for new 2nd Lieutenants, and it is there that we do the gas chamber. I haven’t quite gotten that far yet!

Q: Looking back on your experience, how much “knowledge” did you memorize before going down to OCS? Knowing what you know now, what would you advise others to learn?

A: I memorized a fair amount, but would recommend more.  I will dedicate a post to this topic–standby.

Any other questions?

Just ask them as a comment and they will be answered!

33 comments on “OCS In Review: Q and A

  1. Dan says:

    Hello Sir,

    Thank you for continuing to help with this valuable information even after OCS, and congrats again on your commissioning!

    It’s my understanding that Candidates are issued a pair each of jungles and ICBs. One Internet source (http://www.quanticoboot.com/qb/usmc_questions.aspx) suggests keeping one pair of ICBs for inspection purposes only since suede is difficult to clean, and they also mentioned that the Bates Lights (style 50501) have been reported by many candidates to cut down obstacle course times. Would you agree with this information? If I wanted to get used to a pair of ICBs and purchased them on my own, what would you recommend (if I used the same for OCS and use what I am issued for inspections)? In preparation for a couple prep events this spring, I was looking at a pair of Belleville ICBs for general use and the jungle Bates Lights (style 50501) for obstacle course runs and such. However, what style (model number) should I be looking at in particular for the ICBs at a source such as http://www.quanticoboot.com/qb/usmc_questions.aspx?

    Also, what do you recommend for boot socks, and where to order them ahead of time? And, do you recommend having a pair of “trail” shoes for off-road runs instead of boots or PFT running shoes? If so, what kind? Finally, are you issued “dress shoes” or what should be ordered ahead of time?


  2. Amaterasu says:

    Hello Sir ManlyPat,
    Please give me some genuine advice! I am competing for the October OCS class, and September is when the board meets to approve who will go to OCS and who will not. I currently have a PFT score of 190 (been out of shape), and I have aobut 5-6 months to prove myself to the OSO. Running, fortunately, is my strong point, and like yourself, I am tall (6 foot), and “thin.” However, my pullups suck (only 2 or 3 at the moment) and I haven’t attempted the crunches in 2 minutes yet but my abs are weak too.
    I guess my question is, DO I HAVE ENOUGH TIME to get into 285 range? This year’s class is even more competitive and I want to go for the highest score possible.

    Thank you sir,

  3. Marc says:

    First of all, let me congratulate you on all your hard work paying off. Going to OCS and accepting a commission as a 2nd. LT are short-term goals of mine, and your website has been inspiring.

    I have two main questions for you:

    1 – Approximately how many in your class dropped out or were dropped? What were the reasons for dropping the Candidates? I imagine it would have something to do with their Academic, Physical or Leadership scores. It’s easy to quantify the first too, but how do they measure/quantify a Candidates Leadership ability, specially if it’s the cause for him being dropped?

    2 – Boots. I second Dan’s questions, adding “Can you buy boots?”, and if you can, “Why should should you?” From what I understand you’re issued 2 pairs while at OCS. It’d seem you wouldn’t need any more (although 2 pairs of shoe inserts seems like a good idea).

    Thanks for your blog and your time!

  4. Lt Weeks says:

    Thank you!
    1: about 30% were dropped from male platoons, and 82% from the female platoon. Mainly it was either lack of physical stamina, confidence, a little academic trouble, or basic lack of common sense or personableness. Hard to quantify stuff. Don’t be timid, don’t be indecisive. I may make another post to explain how they measure “Leadership.”
    2: Sometimes you do need three. One will get really wet and nasty outside, you’ll wear another pair around, and basically save your third pair in really good shape for inspections. I’m at TBS, and definitely use all three pairs here so sooner or later you’ll want 3. Make sense?

    Good luck! Keep the questions coming

  5. OCS hopeful says:


    I have read some of your writings with great interest, as I will be submitting an application for OCS October 2010. I have spoken to an OSO and have my application in hand. Anyway, thank you for this very well-written blog and the information you can impart.

    I was wondering what sort of challenges you found the most difficult at OCS, and what were the most common difficulties, and how you and others overcame them. I was also curious about how candidates are organized and how this affects or directs what you do and challenges presented.

    Many thanks in advance, and congratulations on completing OCS. Good luck at TBS.

  6. Marc says:

    Thank you for your prompt answer!

    If you manage to find the time to write a post on Leadership, I’m sure it’d be greatly appreciated.

    The need for 3 pairs of boots makes perfect sense.

    Thanks again!

  7. Mr Dynamite says:

    First off, love this blog.

    My question is what is your best advice for acing the spacial apperception portion of the ASTB? Also, I know you studied for this test while also studying for your finals at school, but how long did you study for the ASTB before you took it? Thanks in advance and good luck to you.

  8. Lt Weeks says:

    Thanks so much, Dynamite! I studied for a serious, focused hour each day for the 4 days before I took the test. Playing video games and flight simulators my whole life were the biggest help in the spatial app section, no joke. I went completely through the Barron’s ASTB study book that a friend lent me.


    I would recommend doing as much study prep as you can! Good luck, Semper Fi

  9. Anthony says:

    Dear LT,

    Congratulate on your hardwork at OCS!!!!!

    Is their a way to buy the “Knowledge” book from a store like Borders or Barnes and Knobles. And if not, where would you buy it from or find it on the internet.

    Thank you very much!

  10. Marc says:

    Could you please detail a bit how and when graduation and commissioning take place? I understand they’re separate events.

    From my research, the only uniforms you’re required to have when you first arrive at TBS are the cammies, but you may “check-in” in a suit or your Service uniform. Why would anyone not take their Service uniform or even not own one by then?
    On all pictures I’ve seen, OCS graduates wear Service (Alphas?) when having their butterbars pinned. Is this correct, or are commissioning and pinning the bars separate events?

    I know this is a small issue, but it’s something that has been somewhat confusing.

    Thank you in advance!

  11. Thomas Tombes says:

    Hello Sir,

    I ship to OCC-204 on June 3rd [about a month away].

    Considering I’ve read the whole blog, any final tips before I take the plunge? Also I’ve been hearing about how difficult it is to get intelligence. In your opinion is it a fairly attainable goal?

    Thanks again for all your help and advice through the process.

    -Candidate Tombes

  12. Lt Weeks says:

    Graduation and commissioning happen totally differently depending on what program you do–are you doing OCC? That’s all I did… let me know.

    For Service Alphas, you will own a pair which will be tailored during OCS. You get a few afternoons where the companies come to OCS and you get fitted, and order. You HAVE to own them as a Lt, so I have no real idea why you wouldn’t have them ordered. The only way you would just use a suit coat for TBS check-in is if the Alphas needed more adjustments made or something? Not really sure, honestly. I haven’t seen it. Get all the uniforms up front.

  13. Lt Weeks says:

    Candidate Tombes:
    1) You may think you’re going to die at some point, but you won’t. Thousands have made it and you will too.
    2) Don’t shirk the spotlight–better to try to take charge, show leadership, and motivate other candidates than try to “hide” from negative attention. If you screw up, you might get yelled at, but if you are showing initiative, you will impress the staff and learn more.
    3) Get relatives to send you tons and tons of letters/mail. I loved getting letters!

    Lastly, know you are well-prepared going in.

    Good luck, Semper Fi

  14. Dan says:

    Lt. Weeks,

    Regarding the OSO forms used by the Berkeley, CA office you linked to, I saw that, supposedly, a minimum of 5 personal recommendations are required. That’s the main reason I’ve delayed meeting with an OSO because I’ve been trying to find a job and volunteer after graduating last year in order to acquire more references, and show that I’ve been doing something out of college. The job market is making that tough right now, though. I worked from 16-19 years old in a leadership position, but I did not work during college. So, do you know if the 5 references are really a non-negotiable requirement and will the board give me fair consideration without previous work experience? I have at least one, possibly two, strong references now. Trying to get a retail job for a year just to get some recent experience and a reference feels like a distraction from my ultimate goal and intended career path of becoming a Marine. I’m not getting any younger, which is why I don’t want to delay any further. However, I’m concerned that my packet would not be as strong as other candidates and thus not be accepted by the board. What are your thoughts? Should I just get on the OSO’s radar now and go from there or what?

    Thanks for any information,

  15. Lieutenant says:

    Hi Dan,

    What I used was professors’ recommendations. Is that a possibility? How about references from church/volunteer groups? It doesn’t have to be employers. Good luck, that’s all the advice I have. I assume it’s a hard 5 references.

    Semper Fi

  16. SgtC says:

    What were the close order drill requirements? Are you expected to arrive at OCS with a certain amount of drill knowledge?

    I’m thinking especially about leading troops in COD, as following orders isn’t too difficult.

    Also–how bad was OCS for prior enlisted candidates?

    Thanks, sir.

  17. No, you don’t need to know close order drill before going–you will be taught. However…if you study ahead of time, you will do better on that written test and can make fewer mistakes while learning drill.

    Priors had advantages over non-priors, but I did see plenty of them get dropped, from prior lance corporals to staff sergeants!

  18. Chris says:

    I was wondering…I am in the process of applying to OCS Next summer, I am going to take my first PFT next week…is there a specific order I have to do the pft in? Like crunches first, or pullups first? Also, with the pullups, I can 21 reliably but im worried that I may have been doing them wrong, do your arms have to completely lock out in the bottom position? Lastly, i am running a 23:12 on my 3 mile which i know i need to get better at, but do you think i am good with 23:12/20 pullups/ and 100 crunches?if it matters, my GPA in college was a 3.3, dual degrees. Thanks alot for your help!

  19. Hi Chris,
    -Order: usually it goes pull ups, crunches, run. If you tell them you train that way, they might reverse it on you though, haha so you never know.
    -The GPA is good but the PFT matters more to the Corps.
    -Notice how this Marine’s arms straighten out completely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLdwu4RCMqY
    Also only your chin has to go above the bar, but your arms must lock out. Don’t try to cheat it, you won’t get your 20.
    -Get that run down but a strict training regimen, make sure you’re doing USMC pull ups and I know you can do it. You can make fast progress with hard training.

    Good luck!

  20. Riley Johnson says:

    This website is great!

    You are living my dream right now and i don’t want anything more than to be a marine officer. But i have a little problem. I wouldn’t say I am fat but I have 12% body fat. I got some time hopefully because I’m 17 but i cant lose my weight yet because of football and I’ve been starting linebacker since sophmore year. And I am worried I wouldn’t make it through OCS. My question is how many people don’t make it through PLC or OCC and what was the reason? Oh and my leadership skills are great! Captian of the football and baseball team as a underclassmen and i love to lead

  21. Riley, I love your attitude and am not worried at all about you not making it. There are many former football players and for that matter, former obese candidates. One candidate in my platoon lost over a hundred pounds on a 5’8″ frame before going to OCS, where he was fine. Injuries, and lack of leadership are the two biggest problems sending candidates home. If you were captain of your sports team, you have common sense and you try to show initiative every day at OCS you will be fine.

    Once football is over for you, eat right, be disciplined and get on a program like P90X to lose your excess weight and you’ll be in good shape.

    I know you can do it; you have plenty of time as well. You have a few years before you could go to OCS. Sound good?

  22. Riley Johnson says:

    That sounds great!
    And i was also wondering when did you decide you wanted to become a marine officer? And what did you do to prepare for OCS? Thanks so much. This helps out so much.

  23. Chris says:

    Thanks alot for the advice, I am going back and restarting the Armstrong program to get my pull-ups in order, and I ran a 22:35 on my 3 mile the other day! So Im not losing hope! Thanks again.

  24. Prospective LT says:

    Recommendation for the purchase of cold weather gear? What were your difficulties in performing in your leadership billet? What billets did you hold?

  25. Sharon Rollins says:

    Hi There!

    You have heard this numerous times but once again, what an informative website you have offered to future USMC Officer Candidates. I would like to know what advice you could give to me being that I am a female. I plan on going into OCS in May, 2011 and am having my package finalized now. I have completed everything (paperwork wise) on my end and am patently waiting for everything to be firmed up.

    Meanwhile, I participate in a bootcamp lead by a retired Marine and consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but I am small so I would like advice on the buddy drills, fireman carries, etc. if you have any advice to offer from your OCS experience. I am about 5’5″ 120lbs. PFT is ~23min. (3 mi. run) 88/100 sit-ups and 45sec. /70 on the dead hang. I know I need to work on my upper body strength.

    As a female, is there anything different I should know going into OCS from your perspective? I am excited and motivated to become an Officer in the Marine Corps.

    Thank You!

  26. Sharon, thank you for the appreciation!

    I’ll speak only from what I have been told by the women or seen in person.

    First, other than your run, you need to get your PT up. The only way to do that is to train, and train hard. There’s plenty of information on the blog to know what to do. Fartleks and PPPA are a great place to start.

    Physical illness or injury was the biggest factor sending female candidates home. Be well rested as the women in my company lost more sleep than the men! Also work on flexibility and especially lower leg/ankle strength.

    For women, prepare yourself mentally as well. No one in your entire life ever has or ever will talk to you like they will insult you and try to discourage and humiliate you. Be confident that crying will not send you home. If you break down and QUIT you are done, if you feel bad but press through physically or emotionally, you will be fine.

    And eventually you’ll be an officer. Semper Fi!

    I will answer any more questions you have.

  27. PS for buddy drags and fireman’s carry, make friends with the smallest candidate in your platoon and make sure you buddy up with her. You can make sure to carry someone not heavier than you, at least.

  28. Ricky says:

    Hi, i was wondering what uniforms we are issued while at OCS, i am aplying for PLCJR. Do we just get the MARPAT utilities or do we also have to buy service uniforms?

  29. I am extremely interrested in becoming an officer in the United States Marine Corps. I am in finals week for the first semester of my senior year at college and will graduate in the Spring of 2012. I have a slightly average GPA of 2.6, not great but can and will improve. Is there a recomended GPA projection?

  30. Jake Shultz says:

    Hello, I am 19 years old and currently a freshman at High Point University. Ever since I was a little kid all I’ve wanted to do was become a Marine Infantry Officer, unfortunately my parents would severely disprove if I joined the military. My question is, how do I prepare for OCS after college as best as possible without my parents knowing and without changing my major which is Business Administration?

  31. You don’t need to change your major. Any major is accepted. You should be up front with your parents about it. To be an officer, you don’t need parental permission. You can also attend Platoon Leader’s Course without committing to commissioning after college to get a taste of the life.

  32. Buck says:

    My friend went to OCS last summer and got injured in a car accident so he is not able to join the Marine Corps anymore. It is terribly sad but there is a reason for everything. He bought his cammies and everything else there but his OSO (I believe that is what he is called) called him and asked him for his cammies back. To make a long story short, he wants to hang on to them for a keepsake kind of thing and I know that he bought them. So my question is, does he have to give them back or can he keep them? If he gives them back, does he get reimbursed or not?

  33. Heather says:

    Sir, I am currently a 2LT in the Air Force Reserve and am considering getting out and joining the Marines. I am an older candidate, I will be turning 30 by the time I actually get out and will apply to the Marines and I am wondering if you had any older candidates in your class, specifically females, and how the fared? I know mentally I can get through OCS but I am worried about the age factor and my body not recovering as well as it did when I was 23 or 24. Do you have any advice/guidance to offer?

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