To enlist in the United States Marine Corps, candidates must graduate high school, be aged between 17 and 29 years old, be physically very fit and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test before going on to Marine Corps Recruit Training. Following successful completion of the recruit training, recruits graduate to Marine status.
The recruit training lasts for 12 weeks and involves considerable mental and physical exertion. It is divided into three phases.
Step 1: Phase One
Complete a strength test to demonstrate aptitude for training. Academic instruction in the first three weeks covers military history, customs and leadership skills while practical lessons include first aid and hand-to-hand combat. Swimming with heavy gear is the focus of the fourth week.
Step 2: Phase Two
Take a written test in the fifth week and learn specific practical skills such as rappelling and gas mask operation. Weeks six and seven focus on marksmanship. Week eight is about team building and helping with more menial tasks such as cleaning.
Step 3: Phase Three
Week nine teaches combat survival, navigation and maneuvering under fire. Evaluations of combat fitness take place in the 10th week in preparation for the 54-hour long field exercise, "the Crucible," in the 11th week. This is the final drill evaluation. The 12th week is largely administrative prior to 10 days' leave and the subsequent selection of occupational specialties.