Packing list update: bring this tape if you’re headed to OCS!

Thank you for reviewing our packing list, Second Lieutenant Will. The Fall 2016 graduate shared this update after his commissioning: But something for your packing list, that needs to go NUMBER ONE on the list is Kendall Covidien Waterproof tape. They’ve changed how sleeping works, which puts an absolute premium on night time time management and subsequently, gear markings. That tape, coupled with a waterproof map pen, … Continue reading Packing list update: bring this tape if you’re headed to OCS!

Should I Fear OCS?

Candidate Question I’m afraid of the challenge, uncertainty and high stakes at OCS. Is it wrong to be scared? Discussion You’re absolutely right about OCS being perhaps the biggest challenge of your life. The uncertainty and unpredictability of the outcome, and the impact graduation or failure can make on your whole life plan is incredible. “Fear” may not be the most helpful word, but you … Continue reading Should I Fear OCS?

Q&A With a Successful OCS Graduate

Many thanks to a gracious Second Lieutenant at TBS who took part in a Q & A session with us to share advice after his recent graduation from OCS. Feel free to follow up with any questions or comments of your own below! How would you characterize your overall experience at OCS? My experience at OCS was that of an up/down adventure. There are good days, … Continue reading Q&A With a Successful OCS Graduate

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

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