For this post we are going to answer some questions about Officer Candidates School that we received through our Instagram (@marineofficergear).
1) What are the billets like at OCS?
Answer: Every candidate will be assigned at least one rotating leadership billet that they will hold for 2-3 days. These could range from squad leader all the way up to company commander. Each billet comes with its own set of responsibilities which mostly involve being accountable for the other candidates under your charge.
For example, if your billet is platoon sergeant, you are responsible for ensuring that your platoon is doing what they need to do, when they need to do it. To be successful you would rely on the squad leaders under you to make sure that your platoon has the gear they need and is at the correct event on time.
You will be evaluated on how you performed during your billet which will factor into your leadership grade.
When you are not holding a billet, try and make life easier for those who are holding them. You want them to do to the same for you. Being a team player is the name of the game. Make others look good and it will pay dividends. When you are holding a billet, be loud and utilize your chain of command.
2) How can I prepare physically for OCS?
While everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, all candidates should build up their running before hand, not only to do well on the PFT, E course, and Fartlek runs, but also to prevent injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures.
Your body should be used to running consistently so that the PT at OCS is not a shock to it. With that said, it's important not to overtrain beforehand as you don't want to arrive with any pre-existing conditions.
In addition, you should be comfortable hiking with about 70 lbs on your back at a 3.5-4 mile-per-hour pace. You will be conducting a number of graded hikes at OCS (3, 6, and 9 miles) in addition to admin moves (also hikes) out to the field for FEX.
Lastly, you should be able to max the PFT pull-ups (standards change depending on your age and gender) and have the upper body strength to easily climb the ropes on the O-course and E-course. Your upper body strength will probably decrease over the course of OCS due to a lack of protein, sleep, and an emphasis on cardio type PT.
To graduate from OCS, you have to pass the final PFT at the very end, so it's important that you have enough margin for error to lose a few pull-ups over the course of OCS and still pass.
We recommend getting a pull-up bar for your house (we like this one because it's cheap and doesn't require installation) and doing pull-ups every day. Like anything else in life, the only way to get good at pull-ups is to do them consistently and often. Being able to do them at home just makes it that much easier.
3) What are the academics like at OCS?
Academics make up 1/3 of your total grade at OCS and are relatively straightforward. You will have a binder with all of the testable material inside which will then be taught in a classroom setting over the course of your time at OCS.
Topics are wide ranging, and include Marine Corps history, the M16A4 service rifle, ethics, and financial responsibility, to name a few. Tests are multiple choice and you need to score 80 percent or higher to pass. The tests and material are not complicated, however a lack of sleep and study time makes it difficult for some candidates.