Joining the Marine Corps: What You Need to Know


Do you have what it takes to be a Marine?

The Marine Corps is a strong brotherhood with a deep history, formed by men and women like you. But none of them simply woke up one day and was a Marine.

Should you decide to become a Marine, you must be prepared for the rough times ahead. Train hard, not just physically, but mentally.

What follows are ways that you can start preparing.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)

To join the Corps, you are required to score a minimum of 31 on the ASVAB (though you could possibly get a waiver, if your recruiter can figure out a way). However, there's no reason to score low on the test, because you can easily prepare for it.

Most bookstores sell ASVAB test prep books, and if you can't find one, order it online. These books tell you what's in the test, offer advice on how to take these types of tests, and provide practice versions.

Do three to five practice tests, actually looking at your mistakes along the way, and study to make improvements before taking the next one.

Study hard, regardless of whether you want to be a grunt or a translator -- because you have pride in being a Marine, but also because it's always better to have your options open.

The Physical Fitness Test

You should already be running, doing pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups. There are plenty of articles on about how to prepare for the physical fitness test (PFT), and they cover more details. What you need to know for now are the minimums and what your goal should be.

Requirements vary depending on your age and gender, so let's look at the age range of 17-26 for men and women.

Men are required to do three pull-ups, while women are required to do a flexed-arm hang for 15 seconds. Both are required to do 50 crunches in two minutes, while men are required to run three miles in 28 minutes or less, and women are required to do it in 31 minutes or less. However, you should always aim for a perfect score. Train with the idea of getting 20 pull-ups, 100 sit-ups and three miles in 18 minutes. You are joining the Marines, after all.

It should be noted that, starting in 2017, Marines will be allowed to do push-ups instead of pull-ups. Check the score charts for more information on PFT requirements.

Physical training (PT) programs used to train for the Marine Corps PFT can be found here:

For many Marines, the PFT was never the hard part of boot camp. It was "getting drilled" in a sand pit (seemingly endless push-ups, jumping jacks and more), or keeping up in the constant runs or marches.

You might feel comfortable with the idea of the PFT, but don't forget to train for actual boot camp and all of the rigors that come with it.

USMC Weight Charts

You will have to meet certain height and weight requirements when entering boot camp and during your time in the Corps. Check the USMC Weight Charts to see if you make the cut.

What does it mean if you are on the heavier side? Remedial PT, and most likely eating smaller portions in boot camp. They won't even let the heavier-set Marines eat the skin on chicken, so be prepared.

Marine Corps Martial Arts Training

Some people wonder if they should prepare for Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) training. The answer is yes. You should be as fully prepared as you can possibly be for every aspect of the Marine Corps.

Jiu-jitsu and kickboxing will probably be your best bets, as these two martial arts have the most similarities.

But don't feel like you have to go to Brazil to study jiu-jitsu with the greats, or Thailand for kickboxing, because a lot of the MCMAP form is specific to the Corps.

Having the basics down will be enough to help you hold your own when they throw you in the ring for grappling or boxing.

You can also find out a lot about MCMAP by watching YouTube videos.

Be Prepared for Culture Shock

However much you prepare, you will likely face some degree of culture shock.

This is especially true if you're coming from high school. Imagine going from attending classes and working out or studying every day, with the occasional hour or two of video games and hanging with your friends, to suddenly being yelled at all day, standing in formation and having no time to make new friends.

Even if you join with your best buddy, don't be surprised if you lose track of each other in boot camp.

Boot camp is about becoming a Marine, and that's all you'll have time for. It's a big adjustment.

Do Your Research

Sift through all the information and decide for yourself if joining the Corps is the right path for you.

Ask other Marines about their experiences. Read articles on, and go to forums where people discuss their time in the service. There are numerous Marine Corps books out there about how to prepare for boot camp, or what it is like to be a Marine, so read up and know what you're getting yourself into.



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