Insidious Hazing: Harvard Identifies the #1 Performance Killer at OCS

What is the most hazardous part of the hazing tough training at Officer Candidates School? Obstacle courses? The Quigley? Long marches with heavy packs? Martial arts or pugil stick fights? Nope. The number one performance killer at OCS is Sleep Deprivation In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, the lack of sleep was identified as a primary hazard to cognitive performance in the … Continue reading Insidious Hazing: Harvard Identifies the #1 Performance Killer at OCS

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

Candidate Question: Application Recommendations and Grades

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: Do you know how heavily an applicant’s academic history plays into their application? I had a rough start to college, took time … Continue reading Candidate Question: Application Recommendations and Grades

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