Academics Update

OCS Curriculum: Selected Chapters

[Please see the update of this page, on the new OCS blog]

For all you super-motivated candidates who would actually like to study ahead of time before hitting the beaches at OCS, here is an excellent opportunity to actually get access to some of the curriculum you will be learning and tested on while there.

One of the OSOs put chapters out of the OCS student outlines; the actual curriculum online to help candidates study.  The below are links to the chapters themselves.

Selected chapters of OCS Knowledge

OCS Classroom

Death By Powerpoint

History 1-3 (pdf)

Op Order (pdf)

Close Order Drill (pdf)

Intro to Leadership (pdf)

Fundamentals of Leadership (pdf)

Land Navigation (pdf)

Weapons (pdf)

I highly recommend reading and studying these in preparing for the academics at Officer Candidate School.  Good luck!


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!

OCS in Review: Academics

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.

[Please see the update of this page, which includes real OCS academics for you to study ahead!]

Although much of the time at OCS is spent in classroom time, and academics are 25% of candidates’ final grades, tests are probably one of the easiest challenges to overcome at OCS. Academic failures do send some candidates home, but in my experience leadership and physical fitness send more.

Academics takes a very routine process at OCS, not unlike in the rest of the Marine Corps.  The stages are illustrated here:

Death By Powerpoint

  • Classes are given by enlisted and officers who are knowledgeable in the particular subject with cookie-cutter outline powerpoints.  Sometimes dry, these lessons are one of the enjoyable things about OCS for the optimistic candidate.  I at least kept a good attitude about them throughout.
This Blog's Author (Left) Reading While Awaiting Initial Haircut

This Blog's Author (Left) Reading While Awaiting Initial Haircut


  • All candidates are given a book, called your Knowledge, and expected to study at night and at certain scheduled times of study, which are very helpful.  It merely contains outlines of all the same powerpoints given by the instructors.

Informal discussions in the squad bay

  • Different staff members, including your sergeant instructors will have more informal lessons involving more questions-answer sessions and discussion in the squad bay after a few weeks.  In my opinion, these were very helpful if somewhat long-winded, and you get treated like near-adults sometimes in these discussions.  When the sergeant instructors tell stories of the fleet or their personal experiences, I remember paying rapt attention.  Good training.

Prac Apps

Continue reading

OCS in Review: Physical Preparation

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.

For physical preparation, much advice I got was wrong, or misleading before I got to OCS. The workouts and much of the training has evolved considerably since past CO’s.

If I had to do it again, I would mimic OCS workouts as much as possible in my own program. So, to that end I’ll detail the current workouts at Officer Candidate School. Enjoy!

PPPA: Push/Pull/Press/Abs

PPPA is often an addition to a run or another workout. This was the only workout that pushed me to my full physical limit. Know your weaknesses, right?

First, pushup/pull-up supersets. For example, 10 pulls, 25 pushes, 8 pulls, 20 pushes, 6 and 15.  The numbers increase each time you do it. By week 8 or 9, I believe it’s something like pull-ups: 16/14/12 and pushups 45/40/35. Ouch.

Marine Corps Pushup!

Marine Corps Push ups!

Ammo can press/crunch supersets come next. I think the ammo cans are 20 or 30 pounds each (full of sand.) This is a great preparation for the CFT and PFT. These are timed events, so you end up doing about 2 min/1.5/1 minute for ammo can presses, alternating with crunches of about the same time.


Fartleks are 3-5 mile runs, interspersed with workouts every half mile or so. Fartleks are very similar to the Run Course/Mec Weight (or something like that) where you just don’t run as far, and do more workouts. An awesome cardio workout.

Example exercises: Pushups, pull-ups, crunches, sit-ups, frog sit-ups (wide knees like you’re doing a groin stretch), diamond pushups, body squats, bend and thrusts, burpees, dips, mountain climbers, sprints

Continue reading


I am now a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps! I have completed the journey From Civilian to Marine Officer.

Thanks so much to all of you for your support. I will continue to update the site for a while; after completing OCS I have much more helpful information to share.

Little wife pinning on the butterbars!

Uncle Jack, my first salute: WWII & Korea vet

Officer Candidate School Graduation

December 11: the big day!

Finally my OCS journey is successful!

OCS Graduation

OCS Graduation: Delta Co. 2nd Platoon

OCS Graduation: 15 gun salute

OCS Graduation: 15 gun salute

OCS Grads

OCS Grads: Graduate Somma (L) & I

Officer Candidate School Sign

Good bye to Officer Candidate School!

Halfway done!

Hello all,

Surprise surprise, first post in over a month! I am home on liberty right now and I can say I am thriving at OCS. Mentally it has not been too challenging, academically I’m doing fine, and I’ve been keeping up fine on the physical training. I got a PR 289 initial PFT and today got a 275 on the intermediate PFT. I lost 3 pullups in the last month! I’ve been surprised how infrequently we do pull-up workouts. The whole platoon has been sick with the seasonal colds and flu going around this whole week, so everyone has been hacking up phlegm, sluggish, feverish and fatigued. Regardless, we all passed the PFT today. Yay Delta 2.

Some random thoughts:

I have enjoyed lots of the things we do at OCS, luckily! Almost every day I enjoy some aspect of our training. My favorite things so far have been individual runs and Marine Corps history classes.

I love getting letters in the mail, but don’t send food! And don’t ask about OCS in letters to candidates, they probably won’t have time to respond. Just write about walking your dog or taking my little cousin to the zoo or something random–the more your letter takes my mind off of the daily challenges, the better!

The physical training stuff posted on this site (which I followed) is spot on. Running is important, but all around fitness is the name of the game. We do way more pushups than I imagined though. My shoulders and chest are pretty sore.

OCS destroys your feet. Blisters, swelling, shin splints, tendinitis, is the name of the game. For everyone. Come with good inserts for your boots.

They pass out ibuprofen like it is candy.

Pain tolerance can be built. Mine is growing.

I am getting enough to eat–they are being pretty smart about getting the candidates a sufficient diet. (I haven’t lost any weight really but some men have lost 15 lbs already.)

I said enough to eat, not all-you-can-eat…

Sleep deprivation is the hardest thing about OCS I think. To get 6 hours of sleep a night is a luxury. Often you’ll get 4 nonsequential hours of sleep a night, then run 5 miles the next morning, drill, have classes, etc etc all day and just have to push through. Gotta stay motivated! At 22 years of age, it is something you can do though. I’m actually one of the youngest if not the youngest in the platoon, most are not immediate college grads. Lots of 24s, 25s.

Liberty is a blessing and a challenge–you get 24 hours or so off to go home (in my case) and eat and relax then you’re expected to turn around and “flip the switch” and be ready to roll again when it’s over.

Everything is a test.

Lots of OCC-202 attendees know my blog–thanks for letting me know you read it, and GOOD LUCK my brothers.

You’re always being watched and evaluated.

The ethical standards of the Marine Corps are honorable, inspirational, and traditional/conservative. The standards and morals this organization preaches and stands by unapologetically are refreshing in this world of political correctness and wishy-washy moral relativism.

The chaplain at OCS is a great source of encouragement and truly cares about all the candidates and their well-being. If the candidates don’t have anywhere to go on liberty, he has a house set up just as a hang out spot and gives away free food etc to any candidate who stops by.

I can’t wait until it’s over but I can see myself missing many aspects of OCS.

I’m tired and going to bed.

Prayers and letters appreciated.