I’ve found the diaries on this forum massively helpful for my own preparation so thought I’d return the favour after having successfully completed my POC. I’ve got a long train journey home so I am writing this now as it's all still fresh in my head. We started the course with 19 people and 9 passed. I’ll throw in some hints and tips as well which will make your life easier when you’re down there. Sunday: I, along with almost all other candidates, arrived at around 6pm which gave us plenty of time to get unpacked, have dinner and get to know each other. It’s a tough few days so it’s essential that you get close with the lads on your course. Also, CTC can be quite an intimidating place so it’s good to have some time to settle in. After scran we chatted for a bit in the officer’s mess before getting an early night - try and get your head down as early as you can. You stay in rooms in the mess with another candidate which is handy as it allows to get to know each other well. Monday: Breakfast starts at 0645 so make sure you get down there for promptly so you can eat plenty and have it settle by the time phys starts. Plenty of cereal, carbs, water, squash and all that. Sack off the full English, you don’t need it. We met the C/Sgt PTI who was running the course at 0800 who gave us a debrief of the course before taking us to get all of our kit. At this point he pinged myself and a few other lads because our boots didn’t have sturdy enough ankle support so we had to use the standard issue moon boots instead. I thought I was being a smarta*text deleted*e by buying some second hand lightweight military boots a few weeks before POC as I thought they’d be easier to run in, so it’s probably best calling ahead if you’re unsure before you waste any money on boots you can’t use. After this was the BFT. This was done in combat trousers and trainers - but the combination of it being a really hot and humid day, a poor nights sleep plus terrible nerves meant that I wasn’t feeling too sharp for it. We had a gentle warm up in the car park before we did the 1.5mile run out which was marching interspersed with jogging. Quick 1 minute break then we set off on the return run. Keep digging out till you see the 500m sign then start to ramp up the pace and finish with a sprint. We had a strong group with most people getting around 8:40. Scores ranged from 8:20 to 10:03. I scored considerably slower than my PB with 9 minutes which I think was 13th out of 19. Following the BFT we had a quick changeover to the essays and planning exercises. Wearing suits and all sweating like men possessed we were split into red and blue teams. One team did a 45min essay on one of about 10 different essay titles. They’re broad enough to find something in there to have a crack at. Stick to the structure the CO tells you - it’s him marking it and the end of the day so you’d be wise to do as he says. We then had 45 minutes to plan our group presentation which was on the structure, function, capabilities and future of 3 cdo bde. Make sure you’re clued up on RM knowledge such as key locations and personnel as this is a good chance to impress the CO with your communication and presentation skills. Draw up any diagrams and flip charts you need because they’ll make your presentation a lot more clear later on. You’re pulled out one by one during this preparation for 1-on-1 interviews with the CO. All the usual questions came up: why do you want to join the corps, when have you shown leadership qualities etc. Smile, be polite and be articulate. First impressions are incredibly important and this interview will contribute massively to the CO’s overall opinion of you. After this, we all smashed a big lunch before heading down to the gym for the RMFA. Each day you have a duty student whose job is to make sure that everyone knows each timing and detail you’re given. We were a well organised group and were always 5 minutes early to each detail with all the correct kit. The C/Sgt mentioned how this was noted by the training team and it definitely got him on our side. He even told us that the previous POC was late to everything so he smashed them round a bit more on bottom field for pay back so make sure you’re punctual and organised at CTC. The RMFA was exactly as you’d expect - no scratching, fidgeting or wiping sweat otherwise you’ll get an earful from the PTIs if you’re lucky or tuck jumps/burpees if you’re not so lucky. With the beep test it’s pretty s*text deleted*t phys but try to at least get to mid-12s. Scores ranged from 11.4 to 14. With the other elements of the RMFA I can’t stress how important it is to practice each exercise to the beep. Also, make sure you’re used to practising when you’re already fatigued. I didn’t do this as much as I should have and it definitely affected my scores on the day, which were 12.6 bleep test, 46 press ups, 78 sit ups and 8 pull ups. After the RMFA, we had a rapid clothes change before we delivered our group presentations to the two officers who were running the course. Again, make sure you speak clearly and project your voice. You should have delegated equal speaking parts to each other. The *text deleted* will grill you at the end to see what you’re composure under pressure is like but just stay calm and if you don’t know the answer then just say so; they can see through lads blagging it a mile off so don’t even try. A a couple of lads were criticised for terminology for saying things like ‘four zero commando’ and ‘lootenant’ so be careful. This was the end of day one and for dinner we all tried to eat as much as possible - you’ll need as much energy as you can get. Tuesday: Otherwise known as something else by POC candidates. It only becomes the B word if you let it so don’t overthink it. It’s one day of really tough phys, if you maintain a positive mental attitude and help out your oppos everything becomes significantly easier. Following breakfast we met the C/Sgt on bottom field at 0745 where it began in earnest. I did a massive chunder before going down so had to do the whole morning on a pretty much empty stomach. Fantastic. We weren’t allowed on the Tarzan course as the heat meant we didn’t wear helmets so to start off we were shown how to pull ourselves along the ropes before doing some confidence tests. These involved running along planks and traversing the ropes at about 25 feet which was actually pretty fun. Following this we got into a ‘warm up’ which lasted about 90 mins and was significantly more taxing than one of my regular workouts. It involved, among plenty of others things, 100-200m sprints, crawls, hill sprints and many, many ‘10s’ off squats, press ups and sit ups. The worst part were the casevac drags and carries where we lost 3 lads. These are tough and you really need to work on your leg strength and endurance to crack these - I got paired with a 95kg lad for one which sapped my legs of energy. Just keep plodding through and don’t quit. Also, whatever you do, don’t coast on any of these exercises. The PTIs will instantly notice and will go out of their way to make life difficult for you as a reprisal. Give everything all morning and they will not only look upon you favourably but you’ll get more rest as usually each exercise begins as the last bloke arrives. Following the warm-up we had a quick water break then went straight into the log PT. As groups, you’ll do loads of overhead log raises which absolutely kill your shoulders, sit ups, bicep curls and crawling along dragging the log uphill with your feet. If you work as a team then you’ll make it go much more smoothly - keep in time with PTIs commands and lift your share of the weight and it’s not all bad. Next, we moved on to the best part of the morning which was the assault course. You’re shown how to do each obstacle with the correct form (make sure you watch carefully - if there’s one thing PTIs hate it’s repeating themselves) before doing a timed lap. Go 100% balls out for this because it counts towards your overall score - I got 3:26 which was a strong time. 4:30 is the cut off for potential officers. The practical leadership tasks followed - listen very carefully to the instructions the CO gives you because if you don’t follow them throughout he won’t be happy. This is actually straightforward, when you’re leading an obstacle stand back and speak loudly and clearly. When someone else is leading, be quiet and listen. You are being timed for this so maintain a sense of urgency. We did ours in 13:30 - and according to the CO any time less than 15 minutes is considered fast so we were all happy with that. All that’s left is the 200m fireman carries which need to be completed in 90 seconds. I found these pretty grim but did it in 77 seconds which was roughly middle of the pack. You finish off bottom field with a full regain attempt over the tank after doing 5 pull ups, and pretty much all of us got wet.. this was at about 1145 so it was a solid 4 hours on the bottom field. The CO asked us to rattle off a few jokes when we were floundering around in the tank so make sure you have a few belters before you go down. Some of these were pretty dark and hilarious which helped to boost group morale. Cheerfulness and a sense of humour are key commando values so try to have the occasional laugh when you’re getting thrashed - the staff will appreciate it and it’ll make you feel better. You’re also being judged on your attitude and personality so being solemn and stony-faced won’t get you very far. You go straight to lunch after bottom field so pile the food in. Get some salt on board to replace all the sodium you’ve sweat out, smash the water and keep snacking on tracker bars and snickers and all that good stuff your body needs. I had an electrolyte drink and a sports energy gel as well which I would strongly recommend. The next detail is the ‘why am I interesting?’ lectures which are 3 minutes long. Make sure you practice getting these correct to time and try to throw a few funnies in there if you can - they’re meant to be informal. Also, try to stick to one interesting personal fact if you can rather than reeling off a chronological account of your life story. These were generally really good and it was genuinely interesting to learn more about the lads on the course. We were then driven out to Woodbury common for the start of the endurance course. You’re stiff and sore at this point and may start to doubt whether you’ve got it in you but just get your head down and keep pushing on. Don’t start thinking about when it will end because you’ll just dishearten yourself. Take each element as it comes, give it 100% then move on. Again, your legs will take a massive hammering so it is vital you’ve trained them hard in the weeks and months leading up to this. The course is roughly 2 miles of hills, streams and tunnels but you go up and down hills doing ‘pays to be a winner’ sprints which makes it much longer. We started with a simple warm up before setting off after the PTI. Peter’s pool and the sheep dip come early on and are actually quite enjoyable. The closer you are to the front and the sooner you get each exercise done, the more rest you get so work hard. Settling at the back will see you off into a vicious cycle of having less rest at each stop and therefore falling further and further behind. I found myself in this situation once or twice and worked hard to break out of it. The worst part of the endurance course was the so-called voluntary withdrawal triangle which was three rocky paths about 40m each stretching uphill to form a triangle. We crawled around this 4 separate times including leopard crawl, bear crawl and crab walk which not only caused everyone to cramp up terribly but also sliced up your hands and knees. We lost 1 lad here, and many agreed it was the worst part of the whole day. After the VW triangle we went straight into 4 more casevac drags and carries including baby carry and fireman’s carries up a long hill. These very nearly saw me off - I was swaying towards the end of each carry and seeing stars but just kept putting one foot in front of another. It’s s*text deleted*t but it’ll really test whether you’ve got the necessary motivation. Everything they ask of you is doable so don't expect any sympathy, not least because they’ve all done it themselves before at some point. The PTI will try and mess with you as well by having false endings after exercises and saying things like ‘we’re just getting started’ - he’s trying to get you to quit so don’t let him get to you. Also, don’t forget the *text deleted* are assessing your grit and determination throughout so try to represent yourself well. That means no cutting corners and no feeling sorry for yourself. We did plenty of leopard crawling along the endurance course which I absolutely hated, gave me a hefty case of Woodbury rash as well. After about 2 hours we came into a clearing with the wagon where we were given a snickers and some squash which was an absolute God send. My legs were cramping badly at this point and everyone was feeling pretty spent. Imagine our disappointment when we were told we had a 4 mile run back to camp ahead of us. We set off after the PTI at what was meant to be an 8min/mile pace but felt much faster. At this point I was so determined to carry on after making it so far but after about 1 mile I was really struggling with cramp and fatigue and was almost certain that I would hit the deck before making it back to camp - it was a serious mental struggle to keep moving. We looped round a trail before coming out to a clearing where the wagons were waiting for us to take us home. The PTI said because no-one wrapped and everyone was willing to crack on and run back to camp that we’d earned a lift home. Needless to say this went down well with the group! The sense of achievement and relief at this stage was massive. We were driven back home where we hosed down outside and quickly showered to get all of the mud and grime out of every nook and cranny before moving on to the discussion exercise, where profiteroles and coffee were laid out for us. This is actually quite difficult as everyone wants to impress the *text deleted* so consequently people are talking over one another and it’s difficult to get a word in. Try not to speak just for the sake of speaking, but likewise if you don’t say anything then they can’t pass you on it so get a few concise and incisive points in. Don’t repeat what anyone else has said either as it shows you haven’t been paying attention properly. Our topic was regarding HMS Albion and Bulwark and their relationship with the Royal Marines. That’s the end of Tuesday. It is without doubt an extremely challenging day but it’s all about just getting each element completed and then moving on without looking back. You’ll make it if you take each exercise as it comes, go as hard as you can and remain positive when you’re feeling rough. Wednesday: All you'll have today is the swim test, which involves jumping off the 3m board with full kit, webbing and rifle. You then swim half a length out and half a length back, hand your webbing and rifle to someone one the side of the pool and then tread water for 3 minutes. Following this, we swam 4 lengths, dived for two SA80s and did a hypoxic width. It was fairly straightforward and was actually nice to shift some of the lactic acid through your legs but one lad didn’t pass the swim test which is now criteria according to the CO, so make sure you’re a comfortable swimmer before coming down. After cleaning our rooms and sorting out all of the kit we waited in the church with a cup of tea and some biscuits for our final debrief. At this point 3 lads were taken out and told that they had PRMC passes rather than POC passes, whilst the 9 remaining were told that we had passed and had a presentation on a career as an RM officer and tips on AIB. We had an individual debrief with the captain who went through all your RMFA scores and other phys elements whilst giving you some genuinely honest and constructive feedback on your POC performance and commando values. You’d be wise to take this on board and learn from it for AIB – the entirety of the POC is an assessment and things like your appearance, manners and behaviour will be discussed so bear this in mind when you’re on camp. That was the end of the POC. It was the most difficult yet exhilarating thing I’ve ever done – you’ll spend large parts of the three days well outside your comfort zone but that’s the point. POC is a test of your character and determination through the medium of intense exercise. It’s not just about physical fitness, every single one of us was hurting on the Tuesday - it’s about refusing to quit. If it was primarily about physicality then in my opinion they would have criteria tests or scored elements on bottom field and the endurance course but they don’t (other than the assault course and fireman’s carries which are easily achievable) – they just want to see you keep going. I’ll finish this off with some general hints and tips which will help you out in your preparation for POC and when you’re down at CTC as well. 1) Mental preparation – this is most important determinant factor for success. Improve your psychological robustness by training when you’re knackered, training in grim weather and having sessions where you really max yourself out. Sometimes it is better to just get the miles in and feel good but unless you’re used to really pushing yourself physically then you’ll be in for a huge shock. Also, you will have times where you’re nervous or things don’t go to plan. I had major doubts about my ability after my disappointing performance on day 1 and was really struggling on some of the drags and carries but POC will do that to you. Everyone said afterwards that they had self-doubts but just focus on putting these to one side and let the training team be the judges of how you’re performing. Don't be your own worst enemy. 2) Phys – POC is primarily a test of your mentality and determination but obviously you need to have a high standard of physical fitness to pass. For day 1, make sure you practice BFTs, perform every single press up, pull up and sit up to the beep with perfect form and ensure you do hard intervals session to boost your VO2 max which will improve your BFT and beep test. When you do RMFAs at home, do a beep test or BFT immediately beforehand to really replicate the fatigue you’ll have on the day. For Tuesday, you’ll need to have a high level of cardiovascular endurance. Doing ‘two-a-days’ where you do a hard session in the morning and evening is great for this as that’s exactly what you’ll be doing on your POC. Also, leg heavy circuits mixed with sprints and hill sprints with squats, burpees and lunges are great for improving your leg endurance. As has been said many times before, the Tuesday is a major drain on your legs so if you haven’t trained accordingly you will struggle massively. Importantly, best effort runs after leg workouts are great preparation. 3) Stash – extra things that I brought down with me that I found helpful were loads of snacks like boost bars and flapjacks, sunscreen (if doing a summer POC), two towels, moisturiser for all the rope burn and rashes, blister plasters, energy gels and electrolyte drinks to help with the cramping. Get as many calories down you as you can and drink at least 3-4L of water per day. As long as you’re properly nourished and hydrated then you shouldn’t have any issues with fainting or anything like that. 4) Organisation – Try to make sure you’re at the minimum five minutes early to each detail. We were always early, you’ll annoy the training team if you’re not and they’ll beast you for it. Also, you’ll have really tight timings in between sessions so if you’re a chopper at doing your tie like me then loosen it instead of undoing it when you’re getting changed as it’ll save you a lot of time. Lay out all the clothes you need beforehand and make sure all your shirts and trousers fit and the zips work before it’s too late. One of my shirts had Royal Marines Commando flashes on it which I luckily noticed before going down to bottom field otherwise I doubt it would’ve gone down well with the PTIs.. Stretch off as much as you can as well to fend off the tightness and I'd recommend sorting your sleep cycle out beforehand. You'll be much better off if you can get off to sleep by 2200/2230 each night. Hopefully this has been helpful and if you have any questions for me please feel free to leave a comment or PM me – as I said before I’ve found this forum hugely beneficial so am more than happy to help out where I can. Good luck!