Reef Notes

Mindy G

10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Jun 30, 2008
My son was wondering if there is an equivalent to reef notes at USMMA.
Its called "Bearings Book". There are no copies out there running around that I know of.
They are basically Plebe knowledge books that must be studied and memorized. Every Sunday evening, the Plebes are tested in a PKT (Plebe Knowledge Test) and must pass these series of tests as a group in order to be recognized as Midshipmen and no longer Plebes. Plebes do not look forward to Sunday evenings. :smile:

In a few photos of INDOC, one can see the KP Candidates lined up with these small books held up at arm's length & eye level while trying to concentrate on learning it's contents. As to the contents of the book, I know very little & would hate to comment for fear of misinformation. Perhaps KP2001 can search his memory banks to see if he can recall what types of things he had to learn from it?

I do know that the books are updated from time to time so last year's book might not be useful learning for this year's incoming class. Due to this, and some might disagree, I would not advise trying to obtain one to get a head start.
Handbooks of Cadet/Midshipman Knowledge

USMMA = Bearings Book
USCGA = Running Light
USNA = Reef Points (not Reef Notes)
USAFA = Contrails
USMA = Bugle Notes
How could i get a copy of the bearing pionts? I know that USNA sells reef notes in thier gift shop.
No where that I've come across. They don't sell them at KP. Not even on ebay I'm afraid. Try not to stress too much over the booklet. You want to be on an even keel with the other Plebes. Knowing too much can get you noticed & thats not always a good thing.
How could i get a copy of the bearing pionts? I know that USNA sells reef notes in thier gift shop.

I read an interesting thread about someone trying to get a copy of "the book" before school started... lots of different comments, but it ended with you might not want the unfair advantage, as the folks in charge might not like it to much... (this is what I read)
Buy it. Don't be a "know-it-all", but there is nothing dishonorable studying before hand, there is also nothing saying your future classmates won't be doing the same thing. If you don't, no loss, you will be on the same page as many others, plus you can use those last few weeks of free time to run and have fun.

Smarter, not harder.
I've never seen a way to get a bearings book. In fact, the only time I've seen D's is in a photo from Indoc where she is holding out in front of her face, studying it intently.

If you are desperate for a head start, the Parents Guidebook on the USMMA parents page has some basics. There is a star next to things you'll have to memorize eventually. But beware! D informs me that the Mission Statement has just changed and she had to work on memorizing the new one over Thanksgiving.

D's goal for indoc was to be "blissfully average," and to completely avoid attracting attention, either good or bad. That's probably a good approach. Besides, you'll spend enough time in your first 9 months memorizing that information. Spare yourself the pain and enjoy your free time before reporting. Your time would be better spent learning to shine shoes, iron your shirts and use a needle and thread. :wink:
Silly "mom" question, do you bring your own or is there an official iron and shine kit?
There will be a booklet called "Logging In" coming your way later. It details the items that are to be taken in by the Candidate. No iron, sewing kit or shoe shine kit needed. They will provide those. Parent's Weekend is a great time to pick up a few more needed items that your son will tell you he needs. He might want an iron of his own at that time.

P.S. Found out a loooong time ago that there are no "silly" Mom OR Candidate questions so ask away! :biggrin:
No iron, sewing kit or shoe shine kit needed. They will provide those.

My daughter thought differently. I think she brought an iron and spray starch with her and used them to good effect for inspections. :biggrin:

She also was not happy with either the sewing kit or shoe shine kit she was issued. But then, she's a perfectionist with a quilter for a mother and a retired Army officer for a Dad.

Her favorite "extra" that she brought was a package of Tide To Go pens - great for those spots on the whites. Made her really popular with the other plebes. :wink:

As jamzmom said, there are no silly questions. We practically memorized the Logging In book and every set of parent tips we could find. It helped a lot. We felt sorry for one young lady who showed up for indoc in a skirt and heels. :eek: Information is your friend!
Thank you for all the information. I am glad to say that i finnally got my own account after starting this thread on my mothers account. Mindy G

What should a person wear to indoc?
They'll tell you in your Logging In booklet. (Last year's is still on the website - on the very bottom of the home page.) But basically, think smart, khakis and a shirt you can tuck in, reasonably comfortable shoes but not sneakers. You'll be running, carrying things.

But that's a long way off. Enjoy your next few months!
Khakis & a golf shirt with tennis shoes is what most kids wear.
HINT: When you say goodbye to family, if they happen to go with you, button the shirt all the way to the top button before you go in those doors. And find out how to "square" a corner". Snap & pop! :smile:
Lol Jamzmom....snap pop.....when I was on zero deck last indoc day taking photos, I was so sick of hearing snap pop....he he he.....too funny.

toddman10 don't try to get the bearings book prior to indoc. My son was a DI last indoc and I think they all would have jumped all over a Plebe Candidate who knew a lot of stuff that they should not. The best thing you can do is get in good physical shape, have fun for the next few months and hang out with your family; because those are who you will miss most. :D
As a past Cadre (at another academy), we were fine with people having them ahead...although we didn't know. For some, it reduces some of the stress. Not a huge deal, because we found ways to put pressure on them. What you want to avoid, whether buying the book or not, is coming off like a know-it-all. If you know your stuff great, and studying can get you ahead in that department. I would suggest however, don't freely give that information, however be able to provide it when it is asked for. Cadre have no doubt that they are working with people who may have been through AIM or NASS or any other program. They know the materials are out there. A swab knowing to much is far from their mind, however a swab showing his or her classmates up, will stand a bad way.
Good Life Advice

As with anything, knowledge is good, being an arrogant know it all or one that thinks they know it all will spell big trouble everywhere. Knowledge may be power but only if it is used wisely.