Education & Academics

OCS Curriculum Selected Chapters

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.

To understand the process of academics, see the following post.

Understand how academics are taught at Officer Candidate School

Good luck!

Selected chapters of OCS Knowledge

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’d recommend memorizing the following five areas of knowledge before shipping to OCS. You need to know them. It is not enough just to read them over a couple of times; you will need to be able to recite them out loud, and under pressure, so practice that way:

1. Leadership Traits

2. Leadership Principles

3. General Orders

4. Code of Conduct

5. USMC and Navy Rank Structure

(USMC and Navy Rank Structure)

1. Traits

The mnemonic device for the Leadership Traits is: JJ DID TIE BUCKLE





2. Leadership Principles:

1.       Know yourself and seek self-improvement.

2.       Be technically and tactically proficient.

3.       Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

4.       Make sound and timely decisions.

5.       Set the example.

6.       Know your men and look out for their welfare.

7.       Keep your men informed.

8.       Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates.

9.       Ensure that the task is understood supervised and accomplished.

10.   Train your men as a team.

11.   Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities.

3. General Orders of the Guard


1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.

2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert, observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.

3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.

4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own.

5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.

6. To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentry who relieves me: all orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and officers and non-commissioned officers of the guard only.

7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.

8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.

9. To call the corporal of the guard in any case not covered by instructions.

10. To salute, all officers and all colors and standards not cased.

11. To be especially watchful at night, and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post, and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

4. Code of Conduct


I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.


I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.


If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.


If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.


When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.


I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

5. Rank Structure

“Bonus” Knowledge

Acquire as much of the following as possible before shipping to OCS. Once you are there, you will be learning it when you should instead be sleeping. Before you start memorizing this section, however, make sure you have the above section memorized first.








The five paragraph order is an element of small unit tactics that specifies instruction to a unit based upon a METT-T Analysis (Mission, Enemy, Terrain & Weather, Troops & Fire Support, and Time) using the BAMCIS process (Begin the Planning, Arrange Recon, Make Recon, Complete Planning. Issue Order, Supervise) prior to potential enemy engagement. It provides a structure for the unit to be able to understand and execute the mission of the unit leader. You will receive more in depth instruction once at OCS. For now, just be familiar with the acronym “SMEAC,” outlined below (for more information, see




– General Jacob Zeilin adopted the Marine Corps Emblem, the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, in 1868. The Globe depicts the western hemisphere, to show the global service and reach of the Marine Corps. The eagle symbolizes America, and the anchor with rope wrapped around it (the “fouled” anchor) symbolizes the Marine Corps’ naval traditions and roots.

– The Marine Corps Motto is Semper Fidelis, which means Always Faithful. The motto was adopted in 1883.

– The Continental Congress founded the Marine Corps on 10 November 1775. The 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General John A. Lejeune, established the birthday celebration.

– Two Marines have received two Medals of Honor, Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly and Major General Smedley Butler.

– Major General Lewis “Chesty” Puller received 5 navy crosses.

– The Mameluke Sword was awarded to Lieutenant Pressley O’Bannon after the battle of Tripoli. It is the oldest weapon still in use in the military today.

Marine Corps history is very important to Marines!

– Opha Mae Johnson was the first female marine.

– A. A. Cunningham was the first marine aviator.

– The term leatherneck was given to early Marines; because of the leather piece they wore around their neck to prevent from an enemy’s saber strike. The collar on the present day dress coat is raised and stiff to remind us of early Marines that wore the uniform.

33 thoughts on “Education & Academics

  1. First link to “Understand how academics are taught at Officer Candidate School” is broken, Sir!

  2. I don’t mean to be an English nazi, but I’ve seen the term “unselfishness” in other Marine handouts. Is it used solely for the purpose of the “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE” acronym, or is there some other purpose of using this odd form of selflessness that I’m not privy to.

    Again, I don’t mean to be a jerk, I’m sincerely curious.


  3. confirms it as noun: the quality of not putting yourself first but being willing to give your time or money or effort etc. for others

    Sounds perfect to me. Selflessness is a synonym but unselfishness is a word in its own right. And it works for BUCKLE way better than BSCKLE I guess…

  4. Im only a senior in highschool and im really eager to start doing all this and i was just curius as to how early other people started preparing for OCS.

  5. Being a prior enliosted Marine Corporal, a current National Guard member, and training for Marine PLC, I can tell you that it is never too early to prepare for OCS. It is possibly one of the most challenging things you will do in comparison to what you have been doing. Start training now to bring yourself one step above the competition when you get there.

    I have to thank you, sir, for putting this website together. It is a fantastic tool for people preparing for OCS!

  6. The GPA requirement is above a 2.0. Do you get dropped if say you got a “D” in a class, and you have to re-take it, but your cumulative is still above a 2.0?

    I have one class in particular im struggling with.

  7. This is all tremendously helpful, so thanks for putting it all up, but I have a few questions.

    I’ve seen the Leadership Principles listed in various orders and with word changes; is there some definitive order and wording one should know verbatim? For instance, I assume one would have to know specifically what General Order # 5 is, but would one ever have to name “principle # 5,” and is there any such thing?


  8. Three Weapons Carries Mnemonic (I still remember from bootcamp over 8 years ago)
    Tactical – Galactical (To the sky, the galaxy)
    Alert – to the dirt
    Ready – kill

  9. Good Morning Gentlemen,

    My question is concening PLC Seniors. I graduated from PLC Juniors last Summer and will be going back the summer after next. My question is what the differences are between Juniors and seniors with PT and knowledge. I struggled most with the Billits (particularily candidate platoon Sgt. or Commander).

    What can I do to better myself with the responsibilites in regaurds to candidate platoon staff?

    Will there be a transition phase or we hit the ground rolling?

    What events major events can I expect to see in the field.?

    Thank you very much,


    1. Similar to the above comment, I would also like to know the differences between Juniors/Seniors with knowledge. Are all of these documents taught at Juniors or only some of them? I would just like to know which ones I should learn for Juniors and which ones I should learn for Seniors. Thanks!

  10. Steve, I can’t tell you what to expect for seniors but for Juniors you can expect to have tests on the M-16 A4 rifle and its types of ammuniton. In my opinion this was the easiest test but alot of candidates do not have any experience with weapons so alot failed.

    There will be tests on famous Marine Corps People, and historical events.
    Know all about Chesty, Tripoli, and the beginnings of the USMC.

    Also, you will go over alot of the UCMJ rules and regualtions etc.

    If you fail more than 2 tests, you will go on academic probation and that will suck. It happened to me but I got my act together and passed them later on.

    The tests are not hard, but when you have had a billit for two days and have slept 8 hours in the last 3 days your mind gets pretty whopped.

    Best to study now and already have the knowlege than spend 2 hours in the showers studying your notes for the next day.

    Also, know your general orders, leadership traits etc.

  11. Wasn’t Gen. Lejeune’s first combat in the Spanish American War? The history notes say he saw combat during the Mexican American War, but I don’t see how this could be correct.

  12. I’ve been going through making flash cards for the knowledge portion and I’m currently working on the history part. I noticed that on the History II exam, the question asked “When did World War I begin?” is answered by “1917”, which is when the U.S. entered the war, but the actual war began in 1914. Is this a exact replica of test we could be taking? And should we be answering questions from the U.S. perspective only when it comes to War History? My natural thought when it comes to answering begin date questions is the initial start date of the conflict from the full historical perspective. It’s just a thought and curiosity I have.

  13. Could please name a few accredited universities from which officers have to get their MA. I tried searching through Google but didn’t get any results

  14. I found a small error in History 1 question 8. It asks who the first commandant was and the answer says Maj William Ward Burrows. I believe Samuel Nicholas was the first commandant, and if I recall Maj Burrows was the second.

    Thank you.

    1. In a way, both are correct. Samuel Nicholas was the first to fill the position of commandant but it wasn’t an official title yet. Maj. Burrows was the first official commandant.

  15. these boots are going to be the death of me, why don’t we teach them something actually helpful instead of letting them join an infantry platoon full of people with more skill who are now forced to censor themselves and dumb things down for that LT. not bashing all officers but most of you are garbage. have a nice day learn something other than jj did tie buckle and maybe find a humble bone in your body and learn from your marines and actually do the training as well instead of seeing from afar

    1. This is for OCS preparation. Once commissioned as an officer, second lieutenants still go to the basic school for training. OCS is like bootcamp. TBS is where we get more in depth training. And then we go to our MOS school. And, while I know some officers come in thinking they know everything, that’s not how all officers are or will be. I’m thankful my dad was enlisted and has been able to give me advice on how to not be one of those officers.

  16. become more advanced by going into nrotc in the university from there you will be sent to ocs if you ae able to pass.

  17. Do people that desire to be officers take the ASVAB before PLC/OCC or do they take the GCT after The Basic School?

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