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

OCS Physical Training Guide

This column is courtesy of marinesocs.com and many other sites where it has been copied around.  I hope it’s helpful!

First off, the PFT is not everything. While it is critical to get accepted – and being able to do a lot of pull-ups or run fast is a good measure of relative fitness that carries over to OCS fitness to an extent – you will be doing yourself a disservice by training just for the PFT. For example, being able to run an 18 minute 3 mile in go-fasters on flat pavement is great but you only do that three times at OCS (and that’s during the three PFT’s, one of which doesn’t count for a grade).

Also, at OCC-199 the first event of the Inventory PFT was the 3-mile run, with the pull-ups and crunches done immediately afterward. Running the 3-mile first may bring down your numbers in the other events, so keep that in mind.

There are two or three exercise routines done every day that there is PT. The routines include (but are not limited to) fartleks, upper body development (UBD), cardio circles, run circuit, push/pulls/press/abs, Muscular Endurance Course (MEC), Combat Readiness Test (CRT), and functional fitness. While each routine may involve different exercises, they all are built around the basic idea of multiple stations requiring high intensity exertions with runs of varying lengths in between.

-Read on about the details!>

Do’s and Dont’s of USMC OCS

Check out this post on the updated blog!

I don’t remember where I got this, but a friend emailed me this great list.  I hope it helps you out!

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the following “do’s and dont’s,” but don’t get too bogged down in the specifics of them.  You will pick them up quickly once at OCS.  The important thing is to get in the mindset of an Officer Candidate.  You must be humble toward the staff, but loud; aggressive in your leadership and actions, but tactful toward your peers.  Start mentally preparing now, and your transition to “Candidate mindset” will be much easier.

    •          DO BE LOUD.
    •          DO BE AGGRESSIVE.
Do Be Loud!

Do Be Loud!

    •          DO AS YOU’RE TOLD.
    •          Do speak in the third person – “This Candidate request permission to make a head call.”
    •          Don’t say I   – “I request permission to make a head call.”
    •          Do address the staff by billet and rank – “Good morning Gunnery Sergeant, Candidate Smith request permission to speak to Platoon Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant Erwin.”
    •          Don’t say you – “Good morning sir, I request permission to speak to you”.
    •          Always speak to staff at the position of attention (POA), never at parade rest or at ease.
    •          Do salute all officers when covered (wearing 8 point cover), don’t salute officers in the field or when in formation.
    •          When the staff says “ZERO!” yell “Freeze!” and don’t move.
    •          Memorize the Basic Daily Routine (BDR) of your staff, this will make every day easier on you.
    •          Do be organized.  Having a specific spot for everything and knowing where everything is helps to alleviate the stress.
    •          Do keep you foot locker and wall locker within regulations.  The regulations are in your Candidate Regulations.
    •          Don’t ever lean against the bulkhead (wall) or racks (bed) or put your hands in your pockets.
    •          Don’t eyeball your staff or the area.
    •          Do memorize your rifle serial number and don’t ever leave your rifle unattended (the sergeant instructors will steal your rifle and then you will have to get it back).
Do be confident!

Do Be Confident!

  •          Do make sure that your weapon is always on safe and your ejection port cover is closed.
  •          Don’t ever take your rifle in the head (bathroom) unless specifically instructed by your staff.
  •          Do sew your white nametapes on your blouse if they come loose, or the staff will rip them off and you will have to re-sew the entire nametape.
  •          Do make sure that your utilities (and all other items) are clearly marked so that you don’t lose them.
  •          Do have your candidate regulations on your person at all times.
  •          If assigned an essay, make sure that you complete and turn it in as soon as possible and before the time hack given.  Write legibly.

Why become a Marine Officer?

I’ve wanted to be a soldier for most of my life.  When I was a five-year-old, my mother asked me what I wanted to do when I was grown up.  My childish reply was that I wanted to “be a shoulder!” Now, I am grown and have the opportunity to act on that dream.  I know what being a Marine entails, and am still 100% committed to being an officer.  Being a soldier is a more physically and mentally demanding than usual civilian life.  As a manly individual, I crave this lifestyle.  As a very patriotic American, I want to serve my great nation.  As a highly confident and proud individual, I am attracted to the Marines, where greatest challenge and greatest honor meet.