United States Marine Corps History: “To the Shores of Tripoli”

By 2ndLt. Dominic Galante This famous line from the Marine Corps Hymn has its origin in the Barbary War of the early 19th century. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the kingdoms of North Africa, called Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli—today, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, respectively—conducted piracy in the Mediterranean Sea against American and European shipping. In 1785, the U.S. agreed to pay Algiers an … Continue reading United States Marine Corps History: “To the Shores of Tripoli”

Interview With A Dropped Candidate

Candidate X did well at OCS physically, but ended up dropping with a new appreciation for his own strengths and weaknesses. He has graciously accepted an invitation to conduct an interview with the OCS blog as he prepares for another run at the grueling course. How far into OCS did you get? While I wasn’t able to successfully complete USMC OCS by our end date in … Continue reading Interview With A Dropped Candidate

United States Marine Corps History: “Resolved, That Two Battalions of Marines Be Raised”

The story of the United States Marine Corps begins before there even was a United States to speak of. The “Birthday” of the Corps The colonial predecessor to the Marine Corps was formed before independence was even declared. On 10th November 1775, the Second Continental Congress authorized the creation of two battalions of Marines. This date has famously become the birthday of the Marine Corps, … Continue reading United States Marine Corps History: “Resolved, That Two Battalions of Marines Be Raised”

Candidate Q: USMC OCS Classroom Time

Candidates, we are running a series of small posts which answer specific candidate’s questions. Feel free to submit questions as blog comments. If the information could help others, the question may be answered as a blog post under the Q&A category. Candidate Question: What is the class time to ‘work’ time ratio? Will you spend most of your time in the classroom or doing physical … Continue reading Candidate Q: USMC OCS Classroom Time

Recommended Motivation: Are You Reading?

Candidates, there are so many motivators out there who bother me every day with questions like, “What more can I do to prepare for OCS?” that I am debuting a new series of posts. This summer’s posts will give you plenty of ways to use up all your time before OCS to get ready or motivated for your future Marine Corps life. The Commandant’s Professional … Continue reading Recommended Motivation: Are You Reading?

How Academics Are Taught At OCS

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.

ocs classroom
OCS Classroom on family day, final week Dec 2009
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.


  • 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 “How Academics Are Taught At OCS”

Academics vs Sleep: The Math

I just made a great find on OCS academics.  These are real scans of chapters out of the 2009 (I think) Student outlines book, which you will call your “Knowledge” while at OCS. This is the real curriculum.  If you are a motivator and want a leg up, having this stuff memorized would put you at a HUGE advantage when you get there. I remember … Continue reading Academics vs Sleep: The Math