Last Minute USCG Basic Training Preparation

A Guide For Coast Guard Recruits Who Are Shipping Soon

If your ship-date is less than a month away and you landed on this page then you are in the right place. For your sake I wish you found my site sooner, but I'll do my best to help you with some last minute USCG Basic Training Preparation with the little time you have left. One thing you will learn in Coast Guard Boot Camp is efficiency, including making efficient use of your time.

You'll also quickly learn that the time given to you will usually be very short, so in some way, being in the situation you're in right now is a perfect intro to what life will be like for you during your 8-week Cape May stay. My goal is to help everyone that’s going to Cape May to show up as ready as possible for everything the company commanders will throw at you.

Having said that, you obviously don’t have that much time left to prepare so I’m going to attempt to help you as much as possible given the fact that you’re shipping out soon.

The first thing I want to do is go over the things that you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO KNOW. If you want your life to NOT SUCK for 8 weeks then pay close attention.

#1: Your 11 General Orders. You have to know them down to the very last word. You should be able to recite any one of them EXACTLY as they are written at the drop of a dime. Don’t just memorize them in order from 1 to 11. The company commanders aren’t going to ask you to recite them that way. You’ll just be asked a random general order. If you don’t have a list in front of you, you can find it on this website here.

If you're having a hard time memorizing them, may I suggest the following method: Don't try to memorize all of them at once. Start with General Order #1 and keep repeating it over and over in your head, out loud, and write it down too. Once you have it completely memorized, then add General Order #2. Do the same thing, but every 3rd or 4th time, recite General Order #1 first, and then recite General Order #2. Once you have that one done, then add #3 and just repeat the process until you know all 11 General Orders.

#2: USCG Rates and Ranks. This is where a lot of people don’t prepare correctly - including myself before I was going to Cape May. You have to know all the titles of all the enlisted personnel, warrant officers, and officer corps (i.e. - an E-7 is a Chief Petty Officer), AND you also have to be able to describe and recognize all of the embroidery on their uniforms. I put together a video study guide to help you with this so if you don’t know this information by heart, I STRONGLY suggest you use this study guide to commit it to memory before you ship out.

NOTE: THIS HAS RECENTLY BEEN UPDATED AT CAPE MAY. I am currently working on creating an updated video study guide, but the version in the Survival Guide has been updated and is correct.  

#3: USCG Chain of Command. I’m sure you’ve probably memorized the list in the Helmsman, but knowing the list isn’t enough. In USCG Basic Training you have to know who the actual people are. It’s impossible to get the entire list of who the actual people are ahead of time, but try to fill in as much as possible. You obviously know who the Commander-in-Chief is, but do a little research and you can get some of the other names like Secretary of Homeland Security, Commandant of the Coast Guard, and even the Commanding Officer.

I try to update the list as often as they update it at Cape May and I keep the latest version right on the home page of this website. I put the date of the last update so you know how recent it is.

Okay, so those are the absolute minimums for last minute USCG Basic Training Preparation. In terms of your physical readiness, it goes without saying, but you should obviously be able to meet the Coast Guard standards. If you don’t know them, they are:

                                       MALE              FEMALE

Push-ups (60 sec)            29                       15

Sit-ups (60 sec)                38                       32

Run (1.5 mile)                12:51                   15:26

You should also know how to swim. You don't need to be a rock-star swimmer, the Coast Guard swim test is relatively easy, but you do have to know how to swim. When I was there they didn't care what stroke you used, as long as you could complete the swim you were fine. For more on swimming in Coast Guard Boot Camp, check out my lesson on that here. Aside from knowing the above, I also highly suggest that you read through all of the other lessons I wrote to help you prepare (you can find the links in the site menu at the top of the page). I cover both the physical and mental aspect of getting ready for USCG Boot Camp in those articles, so go ahead and get your read on. Make sure you also check out my youtube channel, there are some great videos there, including my demonstration of what the daily morning workout looks like.

Now depending on how much time you have between now and your ship date, if you really want to take your preparation to the next level and show up knowing pretty much everything, then you can get my book, the Coast Guard Boot Camp Survival Guide. It’s 20 chapters (don’t worry, it’s not as long as it sounds - some chapters are only half a page - I get to the point) and it covers everything you need to know to show up ready on day one of USCG Basic TrainingClick here to watch a quick video preview.

Last Note from Martin

My goal is to give back and to “pay it forward”. I had people who helped me along the way and I want to do the same for other recruits. It’s my hope that this article on last minute USCG Basic Training Preparation has helped you in some way. I wish you the best of luck in your last-minute preparation and if there is anything I can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have. My e-mail address is:

Best of Luck,


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