Officer Candidates School is located at Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), Quantico, Virginia. On the banks of the historic Potomac River, it is an exacting course designed to build and measure the candidate’s ability to function effectively under mental and physical STRESS!

The officer candidate receives basic military instruction and physical training in a controlled environment. Candidates are evaluated academically, physically and in leadership potential. This manual is designed to provide information on the activities and requirements at OCS.


OCS consists of a Headquarters and Service Company tasked with administrative and support functions, and a number of candidate companies. Each candidate company has three to five platoons of approximately 50 candidates each. The Company Commander is a Marine Corps Major; he is assisted by his Executive Officer, a senior Captain. Platoon commanders are usually Marine Corps Captains, and they are assisted by three highly qualified Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).

The NCOs provide instruction in basic subjects such as military drill, care of equipment, and military routine. The Platoon Commanders primary mission is to evaluate the candidates and appraise their potential to be Marine Officers.

The OCS staff is carefully selected. Professionally competent and purposefully dedicated, these officers and NCO’s will closely scrutinize each candidate and recommend for a commission only those who achieve the high standards of the Marine Corps.


Officer candidates’ performance is continuously evaluated during training to determine potential as future Marine Officers. The three areas of evaluation are: LEADERSHIP (50%), ACADEMICS (25%), and PHYSICAL FITNESS (25%).


The primary purpose of the academic portion of the program is to provide instruction in the basic military skills and techniques, and through assimilation of these skills, provide a basis for evaluation. Although the subjects covered are basic, you will have to apply yourself. Instruction is given in Marine Corps history, weapons, military customs and courtesies, rank structure, military justice, first aid, traditions, interior guard, land navigation and small unit tactics.


As an officer candidate you will receive instruction on the principles of leadership. Throughout the program, you will be observed for evidence of your leadership potential. All candidates are assigned various company jobs or billets on a rotational basis. This provides an opportunity for practical application of those leadership concepts taught in the classroom.

Evaluation is further supplemented by interviews with your Platoon Commander, leadership problem solving classes, and a reaction course. The reaction course is a series of simulated problems using real objects and affords the candidates an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities by means of leadership problem solving under physical stress and fatiguing conditions.

Other leadership traits are evaluated by observing your demonstrated ability to command and control units during close order drill, small unit tactical exercises, and routine administrative duties.

The entire course is designed to develop, expose and to measure your leadership potential.



The physical training program at OCS is designed to teach, then test and evaluate, a very high level of physical fitness in a minimum time period. It is built on principles that will test physical courage, willpower and determination, while preparing you for the rigors of future Marine Corps duty. You will find it both challenging and demanding.

The OCS program incorporates mental and physical fitness as well as strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination and overall good health. The Marine Corps requires its officers to have the strength and endurance to move rapidly to move from one area to another without undue fatigue; always maintaining the ability to perform the mission when they arrive at their destination.

Although the physical fitness training at OCS accounts for only a portion of the candidates’ final grade, it has a great influence on total performance. Poor performance in physical fitness may have an adverse effect on an individual’s self-confidence and thus detrimentally affect leadership performance. More importantly, poor physical condition may lead to injury that could result in disenrollment from the OCS program. Those candidates who are content on reporting to OCS capable of performing only the minimum standards will find themselves falling behind.

It is essential that you begin at once for the physical aspect of OCS. There will be specified requirements which will have to be met and no time for “starting from scratch” once OCS has begun. On the first training day all candidates are administered a Physical Fitness Test (PFT) to determine their initial level of fitness. PFT’s are also administered during the middle and final weeks of training to test and evaluate the progress of the individual’s fitness development. The following are the minimum/ maximum standards for each individual component of the PFT:




3 MILE RUN 24:00 18:00



3 MILE RUN 27:00 21:00

Additionally, all candidates will be examined during medical processing to ensure compliance with height and weight standards established by the Marine Corps.

To prepare for the level of conditioning at which OCS begins, you should start today on the exercises described in the remaining paragraphs of this chapter. You should attempt to exercise at least three to four times per week. Experience has shown that the two most important factors in successfully meeting the physical requirements of OCS are stamina and upper body strength.

To start your conditioning program, you should first analyze your strengths and weaknesses to determine where the major emphasis should be placed. All conditioning activities have two primary objectives: muscular strength and endurance. These components form the core of a conditioning program. The exercises which follow are simple yet beneficial and can be practiced at home in a minimum amount of time.

Thousands of officer candidates have successfully completed the same training you will receive. You will be expected to give 100% effort during your training, and your performance will be evaluated daily by your platoon and company staff. The physical training program is very demanding; there are no shortcuts to real fitness.


Overload, variety, balance, regularity and progression are the principles of physical conditioning. These five principles are the cornerstones of an effective, efficient training program. Although you may be familiar with these words in other uses, they have a special meaning to physical training.

OVERLOAD. A system of increasing resistance, distance, time or other exercise variables in a training program in order to increase or improve physical performance is known as overload. It may take form when you increase a bench press weight from 135 to 145 pounds, or start practicing 40 sit-ups a minute after being able to perform 35 easily, or strive to run three miles in 19 minutes after successfully running the same distance in 20 minutes.

Overloading the amount of work to be done is useful in all training pursuits, but is mandatory if the goal of increased strength is to be achieved. The body naturally adapts to performance under increased workloads, that increase is the only way by which hypertrophy (an increase in the size and strength of muscular tissue) will occur.

VARIETY. The use of different training methods within the same exercise program to maintain a high caliber or performance is known as variety. There is no reason why physical training should ever be boring. This complaint usually reflects a lack of initiative and imagination on the part of the individual conducting the training. If you are in charge of physical training, remember that not everyone is as highly motivated as you are! Be IMAGINATIVE, be INNOVATIVE, and you will be EFFECTIVE!

BALANCE. The elements of a training program which ensures well rounded performance is call balance. Because the components of physical fitness for Marines are strength, endurance, agility and coordination, your training programs should be balanced so that you may progress in all areas and thus achieve a real increase in physical fitness. A balanced program should include running, calisthenics or stretching and weight training.

REGULARITY. Regularity means making physical training a routine part of your lifestyle. It takes personal motivation to get in shape and self-discipline to stay that way. Training must be routine (three to five times weekly) if you are to make significant gains.

PROGRESSION. The movement from one level of fitness to a higher level of fitness as a result of a program of increasingly more difficult exercise is known as progression. Once you can execute 20 pull-ups, you can continue to increase your strength by doing behind the neck pull-ups or by changing from a chin up to a pull-up bar grip on the bar. Progression is the result of an effective training program. Once set goals have been reached, others must be selected and established in order to achieve continued improvement.


A substantial number of candidate injuries are the result of the candidate wearing improper running shoes. Wearing the wrong shoe whether it be the wrong type, fit, or a shoe that is too worn can result in stress fractures, knee problems, etc. The candidate should report to OCS with a running shoe that is of proper fit and broken in / not broken down (3 to 4 runs normally will break in a good running shoe / a general rule is to replace your running shoes every 300-350 miles or approximately every 3 months). Note: If you wear orthotics bring them when you report to OCS. The following information is provided to assist you in selecting the proper shoe for your running style and foot type.

1.  It's important to understand that you need to buy a shoe specific to running. Not a sneaker, tennis shoe, cross-trainer, aerobic, basketball or walking shoe. But a running shoe made for running and only running. A shoe dedicated to running can cost anywhere from $65 - $100. It is important to make the investment in yourself to purchase a quality running shoe that works best for you.

2.  The best way to get a high quality running shoe that fits you properly is to go to a running store. There are plenty of sporting goods chain stores that carry running shoes, but only running shops carry a wide selection of brands and models and have running experts who can put you in the best shoe for you. If you don't know of a running store in you area, you can visit the following website for assistance in locating a running store in your area: . Go to Shoes & Gear and then click on shoes 101. Some specialty running stores in Missouri are:

13453 Chesterfield Plaza 278 THF Boulevard
Chesterfield, Missouri 63017 Chesterfield, Missouri 63005
Phone: (314) 434-9577 Phone: (636) 532-0522

1605 Chapel Hill Road 3813 Mexico Road
Columbia, Missouri 65203 St. Charles, Missouri 63376
Phone: (573) 447-2453 Phone: (636) 939-0161
Website: Website:

9430 Manchester Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63119
Phone: (314) 961-2647

3.  Once you've found a running store, commit to spending at least 30 to 45 minutes there. Don't rush your shoe selection process.

4.  While shopping ensure the salesperson is knowledgeable in fitting running shoes and is a runner who understands your needs. If not, ask to see someone else.

5.  You will be issued two pair of medium weight calf high all white socks when you arrive at OCS. You will be allowed to use any similar white, calf high sock. Bring a like sock when trying on shoes. The wrong socks (either too thin or too thick) will alter the fit of the shoes you're trying on.

6.  Bring the shoes that you have been running in with you to the store. This will help the salesperson better determine the specific pair you need. If you wear orthotics, bring them as well.

7.  Have both feet measured for width and length-even if you think you know your size. Your feet tend to spread and lengthen (from running and aging) so don't be surprised that your running shoes may be a half or full size larger than what your accustomed to wearing. Feet can change by ½ size throughout the day. It is best to buy shoes in the afternoon after being on your feet.

8.  Discuss with the salesperson your plans to attend officers candidate school and that you will be running approximately 15 miles per week in running shoes, the majority of which will conducted on graveled trails. (Additional running will be conducted in combat boots). Ensuring that your upcoming training plans are discussed with the sales person will assist them in fitting you in the proper shoe.

9.  Your primary need is for a pair of shoes that fit well and feel comfortable. Fit and feel are certainly an individual decision, but look for running shoes that fit snugly (without being tight) with about a half inch (or slightly less) room between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Your toes should not feel cramped or compressed. Your heel should not slip in the rearfoot when walking or running. If one aspect of the fit is not right, don't buy the shoe

10.  If you like a certain shoe, but don't feel it's wide enough (or it's too wide), ask the salesperson if it's available in more than one width. Many models are.

11.  Try on a wide variety of styles and brands. One brand isn't necessarily better than any other. Take your time. Put your running socks on (and if you wear orthotics, place them in the shoes) and walk around the store in the shoes. Jog around outside. If it doesn't feel or fit right in the store, it won't feel better when you run.

12.  Make certain the salesperson watches you run. There are some shoes that could be wrong for you-for example, not enough support for big runners-and even if you can't tell, the salesperson should be able to.