Former service academy grads, how important are memorizing your rates during PS? How often are you questioned, how are you questioned, and what does the punishment look like for not knowing them? Any other knowledge regarding rates would be great!
Everything is important during Plebe Summer. You are questioned all the time and the punishments vary from extra questioning to incentive training (a lot of push ups, flutter kicks, etc.). Sometimes, the Detailers will make you stand and watch your classmates PT (that is probably the one of the loneliest feelings). The rates also don't stop after Plebe Summer. During Plebe Year, you'll have to know the next three meals in advance, the days until multiple events, the officers of watch, etc.
Some of the stuff you memorize is just there to make you memorize things. Stuff like How's the Cow (USNA grads know what I am talking about) is simply to give you something to memorize. However, stuff like the Chain of Command, officer and enlisted ranks of all the services, Code of Conduct, will stay with you throughout your career.
Also, once you are operating in the Fleet, you will have to memorize a lot of stuff quickly and accurately. You will have to recall that information under times of stress.