The Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School is the gateway into the elite and highly competitive Navy SEAL program. If you have ambitions of becoming a US Navy SEAL, attending and graduating from the preparatory school is the first major hurdle you’ll need to clear.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School is an 8-week program that prepares candidates for Navy SEAL training. It tests physical fitness, mental toughness, and overall readiness through intense training routines and evaluation tests.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the preparatory school including an overview of the program, eligibility requirements, the application process, what to expect during training, graduation standards, and tips for passing this rigorous assessment and getting one step closer to your goal of becoming a US Navy SEAL.

Overview of the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School

The Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School (NSW Prep) is a critical stepping stone for individuals seeking to become Navy SEALs or Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC). This intensive training program prepares candidates physically and mentally for the challenges they will face during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training or SWCC Basic Crewman Training (BCT).

History and purpose of the prep school

The NSW Prep was established in 2002 with the aim of improving the success rate of candidates in the rigorous BUD/S and BCT programs. Historically, many candidates struggled with the demanding physical requirements of SEAL training, leading to a high attrition rate.

The prep school was created to provide candidates with the necessary foundation and skills to increase their chances of successfully completing the subsequent training.

At NSW Prep, candidates undergo a comprehensive training program that focuses on physical conditioning, mental resilience, and teamwork. The curriculum includes intense physical training, water competency drills, land navigation exercises, and classroom instruction on subjects such as nutrition, injury prevention, and tactical skills.

Location and length of training

The Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School is located at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. The proximity to BUD/S and BCT training sites allows for a seamless transition for graduates of the prep school to their respective follow-on training programs.

The length of training at NSW Prep varies depending on the specific program. SEAL candidates typically spend eight weeks at the prep school, while SWCC candidates undergo a six-week program. During this time, candidates are pushed to their physical limits and are expected to demonstrate their commitment, determination, and ability to work effectively in a team.

Primary training components and routine

The training at NSW Prep is designed to prepare candidates for the challenges they will face in SEAL or SWCC training. The program includes a combination of physical conditioning, water competency, land navigation, and classroom instruction.

Physical conditioning forms a significant part of the training, with candidates engaging in daily workouts that focus on building strength, endurance, and agility. These workouts include running, swimming, calisthenics, and weightlifting.

The goal is to ensure candidates are physically fit and capable of handling the demanding physical requirements of the subsequent training programs.

In addition to physical conditioning, candidates undergo rigorous water competency drills to develop their swimming and combat diving skills. These drills include underwater swims, pool exercises, and open-water swims in challenging conditions.

Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in various water-based tasks to progress through the program.

Land navigation exercises are also an integral part of the training. Candidates are taught how to navigate using maps, compasses, and GPS devices, honing their ability to find their way in unfamiliar terrain. These exercises help develop their situational awareness and critical thinking skills.

Classroom instruction covers a range of topics, including nutrition, injury prevention, tactical skills, and the principles of special warfare. Candidates learn about proper nutrition to fuel their bodies for peak performance and how to prevent and manage injuries during training.

They also receive instruction on tactical skills such as weapons handling, small unit tactics, and communications.

The Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School plays a vital role in preparing candidates for the demanding training that lies ahead. It equips them with the physical and mental resilience needed to succeed in becoming Navy SEALs or SWCC operators.

Graduates of NSW Prep are better prepared to tackle the challenges of BUD/S or BCT, setting them on the path to join the elite ranks of the U.S. Navy’s special warfare community.

Eligibility Requirements

Age limits

To be eligible for the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School (NSW Prep), applicants must meet certain age requirements. Generally, individuals must be between the ages of 17 and 28 to apply. However, there are waivers available for those who fall outside of this range.

It is important to note that age requirements may vary depending on the specific program within NSW Prep.

Education and Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) requirements

Applicants to NSW Prep must possess a high school diploma or equivalent. Additionally, they are required to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. The ASVAB is used to determine an individual’s aptitude for various military occupations.

The specific ASVAB score required for NSW Prep may vary depending on the desired career path within the Navy Special Warfare community.

Physical fitness standards

Physical fitness is a critical aspect of being a Navy Special Warfare Operator. Therefore, applicants to NSW Prep must meet rigorous physical fitness standards. These standards include requirements for running, swimming, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups.

The specific fitness standards can be found on the official Navy website

Medical qualifications

Due to the demanding nature of Navy Special Warfare operations, applicants must meet specific medical qualifications. These qualifications ensure that individuals are physically and mentally capable of handling the challenges they will face.

Medical requirements may include vision, hearing, and overall health assessments. It is essential for applicants to consult the official Navy medical guidelines for more detailed information.

Background check and security clearance

As with any military program, applicants to the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School must undergo a thorough background check and obtain the necessary security clearance. This process helps ensure that individuals with a history of criminal activity or other disqualifying factors are not admitted to the program.

The specific requirements and procedures for the background check and security clearance can be obtained from the official Navy recruitment offices.

The Application Process

Applying to the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School (NSW Prep) is the first step towards becoming a Navy SEAL. The application process is rigorous and competitive, but with the right preparation and dedication, you can increase your chances of being accepted into this elite training program.

Finding a SEAL recruiter

The first step in the application process is to find a SEAL recruiter. These recruiters are specially trained to guide potential candidates through the application process. They can provide valuable information about the requirements and expectations of the Navy SEAL program.

You can find a SEAL recruiter by contacting your local Navy recruiting office or by visiting the official Navy website.

Submitting your application package

Once you have connected with a SEAL recruiter, you will need to submit an application package. This package includes various forms, documents, and medical records that provide information about your qualifications and suitability for the program.

It is important to fill out the application forms accurately and provide all the necessary supporting documents.

Additionally, you may be required to pass a physical fitness test and meet specific medical standards. The Navy SEALs have stringent physical and mental requirements, so it is crucial to be in excellent physical condition and have a strong determination to succeed.

Securing a SEAL challenge contract

After submitting your application package, the next step is to secure a SEAL challenge contract. This contract guarantees you a spot at the NSW Prep and ultimately, a chance to become a Navy SEAL. To secure a contract, you will need to pass a series of physical and mental tests, including the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and the Physical Screening Test (PST).

It is important to note that securing a contract does not automatically guarantee acceptance into the NSW Prep. You will still need to undergo a thorough selection process, which includes interviews, background checks, and medical evaluations.

If you successfully pass this selection process, you will be given the opportunity to attend the NSW Prep.

Checking in at Great Lakes naval station

Once you have secured a SEAL challenge contract, you will need to check in at the Great Lakes naval station in Illinois. This is where the NSW Prep is located. At the naval station, you will receive further instructions and begin your training journey to become a Navy SEAL.

During your time at the NSW Prep, you will undergo intensive physical training, mental conditioning, and team-building exercises. The goal of the school is to prepare you for the rigors of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, which is the next phase in becoming a Navy SEAL.

For more information about the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School and the application process, visit the official Navy website at

What to Expect During Training

Training at the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School is intense and demanding, pushing candidates to their limits both physically and mentally. Here’s what you can expect during your time at the school:

The 8-week schedule

The training program at the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School typically lasts for 8 weeks. During this time, candidates undergo a rigorous and structured training regimen that prepares them for the challenges they will face in the Navy Special Warfare community.

Physical conditioning sessions

Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School training. Candidates can expect to participate in daily physical conditioning sessions that include various exercises and workouts designed to build strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

Swim qualification tests

As part of the training, candidates will undergo swim qualification tests. These tests assess their swimming ability and are an essential component of becoming a Navy Special Warfare operator. It is important for candidates to be comfortable and proficient in the water.

Timed runs, calisthenics, and obstacle courses

Candidates will also undergo timed runs, calisthenics, and obstacle courses as part of their training. These activities help to improve their cardiovascular fitness, agility, and overall physical performance. It is essential for candidates to be able to perform under physically demanding situations.

Academic assignments

While physical fitness is a priority, candidates are also required to complete academic assignments during their time at the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School. These assignments cover a range of subjects, including weapons training, navigation, and tactics.

Leadership responsibilities

In addition to physical and academic training, candidates are given opportunities to develop their leadership skills. They will be assigned various leadership responsibilities throughout the training program, allowing them to demonstrate their ability to lead and make decisions under pressure.

Inspections and drill sessions

Attention to detail is crucial in the Navy Special Warfare community. Candidates can expect regular inspections and drill sessions where they are evaluated on their uniform appearance, attention to detail, and ability to perform military drills with precision.

Pressure testing and evaluation

Throughout their time at the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School, candidates will be subjected to pressure testing and evaluation. This includes simulated combat scenarios and assessments to evaluate their ability to perform under stress and make split-second decisions.

Graduation Standards and Assessment

Graduating from the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School requires meeting specific standards and undergoing various assessments. These standards and assessments ensure that candidates are physically and mentally prepared for the challenges they will face in the Navy’s special warfare community.

Passing the physical standards

Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of being a successful special warfare operator. At the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School, candidates must pass rigorous physical tests to demonstrate their strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

These tests include timed runs, swimming qualifications, obstacle courses, and strength assessments. Meeting these physical standards is essential for graduation and allows candidates to move forward in their training.

Displaying leadership potential

In addition to physical fitness, the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School evaluates candidates’ leadership potential. Leadership skills are vital in special warfare operations, where teamwork and effective communication are essential.

Throughout their training, candidates are observed and assessed on their ability to lead and work effectively within a team. This evaluation includes classroom discussions, practical exercises, and real-world scenarios designed to test their decision-making abilities and leadership potential.

Receiving recommendation from review board

Upon completion of their training at the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School, candidates must receive a recommendation from the review board in order to graduate. The review board consists of experienced special warfare operators who assess the candidates’ overall performance and readiness for further training.

This recommendation is based on a comprehensive evaluation of the candidates’ physical fitness, leadership potential, mental resilience, and overall suitability for the demands of special warfare operations.

The Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School sets high standards for graduation to ensure that only the best candidates proceed to the next phase of their training. It is through these rigorous assessments and evaluations that the Navy identifies and prepares the future leaders of its special warfare community.

Tips for Successfully Passing the Prep School

Arrive in top physical condition

One of the key factors in successfully passing the Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School is being in top physical condition. This is a rigorous training program that requires a high level of physical fitness. It is recommended to start preparing well in advance of your arrival at the school.

Focus on building your strength, endurance, and stamina through a combination of cardiovascular exercises, weightlifting, and agility training. Additionally, make sure to follow a healthy diet to fuel your body and aid in recovery.

Embrace the intensity and don’t quit

The Prep School is known for its intense training regimen, designed to push candidates to their limits both physically and mentally. It is important to mentally prepare yourself for the challenges ahead and embrace the intensity of the program.

Don’t let the demanding nature of the training discourage you. Instead, stay motivated, remain focused on your goals, and push through the difficult moments. Remember, success is often just on the other side of perseverance.

Demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills

Teamwork and leadership skills are highly valued in the Navy Special Warfare community. During your time at the Prep School, make it a priority to demonstrate your ability to work effectively in a team and show leadership potential.

Participate actively in group exercises and projects, communicate effectively with your peers, and take initiative when appropriate. These qualities will not only help you pass the school but will also serve you well throughout your career in the Navy Special Warfare community.

Prioritize academics and military training

While physical fitness is crucial, it is equally important to prioritize academics and military training at the Prep School. Take your coursework seriously and strive to excel academically. This will not only help you pass the school but will also build a solid foundation for your future career.

Similarly, make the most of the military training opportunities provided at the Prep School. Pay attention to detail, follow instructions, and demonstrate your commitment to becoming a successful Navy Special Warfare candidate.

Learn from instructors and fellow trainees

One of the greatest resources at the Prep School is the instructors and your fellow trainees. Take advantage of the knowledge and experience they have to offer. Listen to your instructors, ask questions, and seek their guidance whenever needed.

Similarly, engage with your peers, learn from their strengths, and support each other throughout the training process. Remember, you are all in this together and can learn a great deal from one another.


The Navy Special Warfare Preparatory School is the first real test on the path to becoming a Navy SEAL. While an extremely challenging 8 weeks, graduates who push themselves to excel under pressure are rewarded with a coveted spot at SEAL qualification training.

By following the preparation tips and knowing what to expect, you can set yourself up for the best chance to join the elite special operations community. With grit, determination and commitment to teamwork, the prep school can serve as the launching point to achieving your ambitions.

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