OCS Questions and Answers

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: 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. Same for the PFT & CFT.

The Combat Fitness Test (CFT): an awesome, quick workout, day or night

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.

The best OCS preparation workouts are OCS workouts.

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 hope all you Crossfitters are doing full dead hang pull ups. No kipping allowed!

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 TBS, The Basic School for new 2nd Lieutenants, and it is there that we do the gas chamber. It sucked, but worrying ahead of time didn’t seem to help at all.

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 failed one test at OCS and had to take it again on the weekend. Memorize everything you can that I have posted on the site!

Q: I am going to OCS on the Bulldog program. I currently have a 279 PFT but am more concerned with keeping up with humps (the farthest we have gone is about 9-10 miles), and improving on the CFT. I’ve been Crossfitting for about a year but your suggestions seem a lot more applicable. My main question is, how often should each of these workouts be done per week?

A: Alex, crossfit is a good workout, but it is not the USMC OCS workouts–these are. Usually, I would say, do these workouts as much as you can. Most non-Marines/non-crossfitters would not have the discipline to be able to match the OCS intensity of them, but perhaps that wouldn’t be your problem.
So give yourself a day or two of rest a week, that’s just my recommendation but if you do get out there and work out 5 days a week, you won’t be sorry. That’s about the frequency we were doing it at OCS.

Also, I had never humped before in my life–they break you into it. First was a 4 miler, then 6, then 9 then 12. Each time I was more confident and ready than the last. If you want to load up a pack and put on your boots and head out to practice, feel free. The preparation will be mostly mental because I assure you, these workouts will strengthen your body enough.

Candidates at OCS perform the side plank. If you’re not doing this ahead of time as part of your workout, prepare for pain.

Q: I plan on becoming an officer, but where do I learn cadences? Or do you learn them at OCS?

A: Excellent question. You will pick some up at OCS but I remember candidates calling cadences on almost our very first runs already.

I highly recommend getting a cd of them or mp3s, and running while memorizing them. That’s what I did and I wished I had learned more ahead of time.
More at Becoming an Officer

Marine Corps Cadences
Put these on your ipod!

Try to memorize 3-4 at a minimum ahead of time, as time allows.

Q: I plateaued at about 10 pull-ups inboard, no matter the program, so I switched to outboard and went from 1 to 9 in only two or three weeks.

My problem, though, is that I got these thick calluses on the balls of my palms, from when the skin get pinched when doing the pull-ups. They hurt and end up decreasing my numbers, no matter whether I use a padded bar or not.

A: Plateauing and the callus pain are common problems, actually both of which I’ve experienced.

Plateauing: if you can do 10 or more pullups, I recommend doing weighted pullups. Read up on the Armstrong Pullup Program Advanced, which incorporates weighted pullups and is designed for someone who’s plateaued like yourself. See how that works for you. It got me from about 18-22 pullups.

Calluses: Padding on the bar never helped me. What did help was using athletic tape and building up a larger, tape-covered bar. I don’t know exactly why, but that felt much nicer on my hands. You can also try chaulk or lifting gloves, which I settled on. I actually ended up getting gel-filled fingerless bike racer gloves (think Lance Armstrong) and using them on my pullups. When you’re doing hundreds a week, it adds up. Good luck, stay consistent in your work!

Get past Pullup Plateau

Q: Is there a high graduating percentage. Like did most people who started finish?

At pickup, a female sergeant instructor screams at a female candidate
A Sergeant Instructor informs a female candidate that statistically speaking, her chances of making it are not good

A: In my class, approximately 2/3rds of the males made it through. 82% of the women did NOT make it through, then a majority of them went to Mike Co. (the waiting company) at TBS instead of picking up to recover from injuries. These numbers were for fall OCC–they are worse in winter

Q: Do you get time to practice the Obstacle Course to get good at it?

A: You will run it MANY MANY times before the final graded, timed event.  If you are one of the candidates who has a problem on ropes, they will get you special times to practice the rope climb every week.  I think just about no one failed the O Course when I was there–they help you quite a bit.  Not in the most polite manner possible, but they help you.

Q: What are some of the biggest reasons for getting dropped from OCS?

A: There are a host of reasons to leave OCS. I’ll list the ones I’ve seen. In no particular order: sickness or injury (common), lack of physical stamina, poor leadership, academic failure (rare), stupidity (common). Let me explain stupidity. Some candidates drink on their Liberty, or sleep in and fail to show up on time at the end of Liberty.  Some decided to sleep at night instead of do work and preparation for upcoming events. Physical preparation, catching up on sleep ahead of time, and doing what academic work you can ahead of time will cover all your bases. Not being a stupid person and avoiding freak injuries is between you and your Maker.

Q: How to prepare for SULE, LRC or other Leadership Challenges? How to prepare mentally?

A: First, don’t worry about these events. If you have Marine Corps Officer potential, OCS will ably prepare you for each challenge before testing you. Secondly, I don’t want to give an undeserving candidate a huge edge to succeed at OCS, and become an officer just because he got more gouge ahead of time.

If you are a deserving officer, you’ll make it fine with the amount of advice up on the site. Your leadership will be tested appropriately, and I don’t want anyone with poor leadership to succeed just because they “cheated” the system.

A candidate navigates the Quigley in winter

Any other questions?

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



385 thoughts on “OCS Questions and Answers

  1. First off, I know you’ve heard a million times, but thanks for this site. It’s been a really big help and inspiration for me. Anyways, at the beginning of this year i was 6′ 2″ and a little over 215 lbs (not muscle), and I said enough is enough. I kicked up a legit workout routine with a buddy and started exercising and eating right. I’m currently around 193 lbs with a lot more muscle, but I still have a few lbs of body fat. My current pft score is a little low, a 210 (11 pull ups, 75 crunches, 21:13 3 mile run) and im working hard on increasing it (In perspective I could barely do 2 cruddy pullups a few months ago, and now I can do 11). I’m a senior who just graduated high school and I’m heading up to SUNY Albany in a few months. My question is, when should I contact an OSO? The summer’s just started and I’ve been planning on keeping up my intense training and eating even better. With the rate I’m at I’m hoping to lose the rest of my body fat, get close to full crunches and hopefully get at least 16-18 pull ups, and obviously lower my 3 mile time. The only reason I ask is because I wonder If I’d be ready physically for PLC by next summer. Is it ok to just keep in touch with an OSO and talk things over with him, or would I slightly be wasting his time? I thank you in advance for reading this post,for your service to our country, and for helping me get prepared to serve the country I love so much.

    1. Dan, firstly we never dislike hearing that the blog has helped future Marine officers like yourself! Secondly, great progress so far, keep up the hard work. The run is competitive right now, crunches are really lagging (almost everyone gets 100) and the pull ups are coming along great–2 to 11, wow. Go ahead and contact an OSO. You should be ready by next year. If you won’t be ready or it’s full, you can at least get into the application process so you’d have the application package ready for the next summer. The OSO will help mentor and advise you, and answer any questions. You can’t contact them too early!

      How are your scores on the OCS Benchmarks?

      1. Thanks for prompt and informative reply. I will definitely contact the OSO located in Albany when I first arrive there. As for the OCS Benchmarks I haven’t been able to do all of them but I can tell you some of the ones I have, and will tell the others when I’ve done them

        Pull ups: 11

        pushups: I’ve hit 50 before, but I want to do a more recent test.

        Run: I actually did a run around my town today with lots of hills and got a 21:12! So i need to retest my 3 mile on the track

        crunches: 75

        I haven’t done an 880 meter spring,nor flutter kicks, nor an ammo can lift. I will work on testing these and get some results back to you. You’re a true inspiration, thanks again.

  2. What are my chances of getting selected for Army OCS with the following credentials:

    BS degree in Biol with Chem Minor and 142 credits only 128 needed for a baccalaureate.
    270 pt score
    3.35 gpa from literally 5 universities just to finish at University of South Carolina
    Letters of recommendation from: congressman, commander (major), major for Army Rotc Program where I have been completing my MBA/MHA degree

      1. Thanks for the immediate response, unfortunately I can not say the same for the Army ocs blog. I was hoping for some experience with what is usually submitted in an ocs package. Does prior service carry some pull in a package.

      2. Hello Sir, thank you for this site – I know for myself it has already proven to be a great source of information throughout this process. I am up for the OCC-211 board next week and have two questions. One, you mentioned you have seen a 300 pft’er with good rec’s and leadership experience NOT get selected – was there any insight as to what went wrong (ie. low GPA, waivers, etc) Two, I’ve submitted a 294pft, 3.35gpa, no waivers, solid rec’s (priest, pres. of my univ, former commander in the navy), on-campus leadership experience in college, and currently work at a highly competitive financial firm – thoughts on my chances? – If I wasn’t selected I’m really not sure how I could significantly improve my package other than obviously getting a 300. Thanks again for your time and support of this website…it really is an incredible site.

      3. Additional info: – I’m going after Active Duty – Ground, and am 22 years old.

  3. hey im becoming a senior and thinking about ROTC so basically for OCS. what happens if i can do only like 2 pull ups and not finish 2 miles in 13 minutes?

  4. Sir,
    My fiance is going back for his second half of OCS in August 2013. I was wondering generally how long it is between finishing OCS and reporting to TBS; we’re trying to set a wedding date that hopefully won’t conflict with his training.
    Thank you in advance.

  5. Good Afternoon Sir,

    I had a few questions about being selected for OCS. I am 21. I contracted twice for the PLC program and was not selected because of my PFT run time which was 25:40 the first year and 23:30 the second year. I am now a senior in College and will graduate in May of 2012. From what I hear OCC, which is more competitive than PLC to begin with, has gotten even more so due to the budget cuts. Also, that Air contracts are pretty much in a “logjam”. The January 2013 board is only Reserve, the June 2013 board is females only, and the next active board is in October of 2013. I want to fly eventually.

    I was planning on going DEP right now, go enlisted right after I graduate so I’m not being a bump on a log for 3/4 of a year, and learn what it means to be a Marine and get in that brotherhood and mindset before I can learn how to lead Marines.

    I’ve heard mixed results from this plan and many people on airwarriors.com say not to enlist if your goal is to become an officer later. But aren’t there plenty of prior enlisted people at OCC?

    I have a friend of the family who is a Captain in the Reserves and he said the MOS’s with the lowest cutting scores are usually Intel, Comms, anything Aviation, or Logistics. I would have my degree so I would be a PFC out of boot camp, I could then, from what I’ve heard, pick up LCpl and then CPL within 3 years. Do you think this is an accurate statement?

    Some people are telling me to just wait and try out for the October 2013 board, but I really do not want to wait any longer to get into the military. I thought I was going to AFROTC field training two years ago, then PLC last summer and this summer. Waiting any longer after I graduate would seem like I was spinning my wheels. Also, if I don’t get selected then, it would be a year wasted because I think that the pilot age cutoff is 28.

    Any answers/advice/corrections to anything I have said that you could provide would be greatly appreciated and valued.

    Thank you,

    1. If you enlist, you will probably end up getting STUCK enlisted. There are even fewer slots with more competition for officer slots among the enlisted than among civilians. Go do charity work or volunteer or get a job, PT, burnish that resume and application, be patient and wait for the next chance! If you ask a recruiter if you should enlist, he will tell you whatever you want to hear.

      Air contracts, correct.

      OCC, extremely competitive, yes.

      Get a 300 PFT. Don’t go A to B via Z. Many, many enlisted Marines want to go officer and have much better PFT scores than you, have combat experience, and have not gotten selected. Do you really think you’ll get selected as a PFC ahead of Staff Sergeants with 290 PFT & 290 CFT with combat experience?

      Your run time is very poor. You should have been able to take off more than two minutes in a year. Perhaps your dedication level is not appropriate for your current goal.

  6. Hello sir,

    I have been reading the articles on this website for many many months now. I’m a sophmore in college and my application got completed yesterday to go in front of the October board for PLC. I realize this is an OCS site but the information on here and consistent responses is better then many other sites out there. Anyways! I was wondering if you were aware of how much of the posts related towards things to bring to OCS and preparation before OCS could also relate to PLC?

    Thanks for your time

  7. Hello Sir,

    First off I would like to thank you for your service in defending this nation. Secondly, I have a question on candidates who attend PLC (or OCS) and wear glasses. I am a Senior in High School who has high grades and a 280 PFT score (On the quest to increase it). Nevertheless I really wanted to ask how the eye-glasses policy is. Do they issue “BCG”s? Do we attend OCS while wearing our prescription lenses? How does Latsik eye correction work? (Sorry if I misspelled Latsik). Thank you for your time.

    1. They have an advantage over civilians, having been through boot camp, but the failure rate is still high. Some have speculated that they have a “fall-back” plan built in, going back to the fleet as enlisted, so they have a “less-painful penalty” for dropping out of OCS. Who knows. That’s the best answer we can give.

    2. The majority of the priors in my platoon were great! The priors who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were exceptional leaders and I looked to them for advice. They knew what was serious and what wasn’t. They were really good at making you realize that what they do to you in OCS is not as bad as what really happens to you in the fleet. There were a few reservists who were not as good because they either were not in the best physical shape or struggled leading.

  8. I have a 285 pft. 3.0 gpa. Recommendations from my father who was a highly decorated Major, as well as another recommendation from a Lt General. I am the president of a nationally known fraternity and have a great deal of leadership experience. However, I have been arrested twice, once for bartending and serving minors ( My bouncer gave them 21 year old wristbands ) It is not a misdemeanor, and is considered a non-criminal simple violation. Second, I got arrested for Harassment and disorderly conduct, however the charges got dismissed. How will my arrests effect my application. No other waivers.

  9. Im thinking about going into OCS after college, but my main concern is academics. I have never done outstanding when it comes to class work, and I’m normally in the middle of the group with grades. My GPA is barley high enough and my ASVAB score needs work. I am a fairly good writer, but lack in book smarts and studying will only take me so far. Is there anything I can do to improve for OCS?

  10. With the current tattoo policy of the Corps these days, what is the likelihood of receiving a tattoo waiver for officer selection? Is it case by case or zero-tolerance? Also, if I were to get tattoo’s removed that are visible in PT gear and they were legitimately not visible does this put me in the clear?… yes, know this is a very specific question but a general answer would be sufficient, thanks in advance!

    1. Legitimate removal I would think would be okay. If they are visible while in PT gear… the impression we have is that any visible tattoos are a big knock on your application. Are they in any way racist/offensive/unprofessional? If yes, then that’s probably a no-go. It’s best to talk to an OSO with very current understanding of the situation.

  11. I leave for ocs in about two weeks and I am just wondering what goes on in the medical part of processing do they re give you a physical? Or just check ear nose throat blood pressure.

  12. Sir,
    I have been selected and am leaving for PLC juniors in May. I had a knee surgery a few years ago after tearing my ACL, MCL, and PCL. I have received a waiver and been cleared for it. My question is whether I will have any trouble at OCS during processing if they see the scars from my knee surgery? My knee is fine I have no trouble with it but I was curious if they can send me home or anything just because I’ve had knee surgery.

  13. Good Evening Sir,
    I’m currently a Senior in high school in the DEP with a reservist contract. I ship out this summer and will begin college in the spring semester. My question is; will being a reservist alone hinder my chances of being selected for PLC? Or will I have an equal opportunity in comparison to a civilian? This is, of course, disregarding PFT scores, GPA, etc. I ask because my ultimate goal is to become an officer, however I would very much like to ship out for boot camp and be a reservist as long as it doesn’t hinder my chances significantly.
    Thank you for your time!

  14. Good Afternoon Sir,
    I am scheduled to return for PLC Seniors this summer, 2nd Increment. I am unfortunately on the fence about returning for Seniors. I have no doubt in my mind that I have the skills to undertake the demands of Seniors. I passed my SULE and LRC just fine, passed all my physical fitness requirements, and did good on the knowledge tests. I battle my decision to return or not frequently. I have asked numerous candidates that have went through Seniors and other Marines on their take of my situation. I was just wandering what maybe your advice was on something like this. Thanks.
    Candidate Keller

  15. Gentlemen,
    I was wondering if there is any informaiton out there on the morning, chow hall and evening formations with the candidate platoon staff. I went to PLC Juniors but was always slow on figuring out the method to the madness of the formations and what to do when. There were so many cadences or “diddys” that I always got confused. Thankfully I never had a top billit during Juniors but I’m sure I will have one during seniors and want to be better prepared. Any help?

    Thank you- Candidate Henry

  16. Hello-I’m currently thirty-four years old and a 3L student in a part-time, evening division law program fully accredited by the American Bar Association. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with a GPA of 3.6. I also have a Master of Science degree in Justice Administration with a GPA of 3.8. After submitting my information to the Marine Corps website, I received an e-mail indicating that I may still be eligible for a commissioning program. I’m not sure if this could be PLC or OCS. My question is this. Have you ever seen anyone secure an age waiver at 34? Being that we are already in April, I know I won’t be able to attend either program this summer, so I’m assuming that I would report in after graduation and the bar. Any advice you can offer on this subject will be appreciated.

  17. Im a LCpl, trying to decide when would be a good time to start filling out my package for OCS any suggestions? Also, how do officers get their MOS, I want to be a pilot, what are my chances of getting what I want? Thanks.

  18. What military academy’s can i use to get commissioned in the Marines?. say if i cant get into USNA can I go through west point or USAF academy ?

    1. USNA. At the graduation of every class of military academies, they will allow a transfer to a different branch if there’s a student at that military academy who wants to switch services with you. So if 5 USAF grads want to go Navy/USMC, and there’s 4 USNA grads who want to go USAF, one of the USAF grads does not get his wish. So, Annapolis or bust! Don’t play your chances!

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