Merit Badge Prerequisites: Everything You Need To Know

As a scout, you’ll occasionally come across some merit badges that require completing prerequisite requirements. Prerequisites mainly exist for safety reasons and will ensure that scouts don’t participate in dangerous activities that they may be unprepared for.

What is a merit badge prerequisite? A merit badge having a ‘prerequisite’ basically means you’ll need to complete other requirements before working on the actual merit badge. For example, a prerequisite to earning the Lifesaving merit badge will be to first complete the BSA Swimmer’s test. Only then will you be allowed into the water to attempt the Lifesaving merit badge requirements.

Prerequisites are also common for merit badges offered at Summer or Winter camps, and outline requirements you’ll need to complete before arriving at camp in order to earn your badge. If you don’t complete the prerequisites beforehand, you may not be allowed to take the merit badge class while at camp.

In this article, I’ll be telling you about the most common prerequisites in Scouting, plus, the best ways to complete them early on. Finishing common Scouting prerequisites will let you participate in more exciting activities and help you to not miss out on fun times with your troop.

The Scouting Prerequisites To Complete First

Another example of a prerequisite, outside of earning merit badges, would be the need to have completed your Totin’ chip before handling knives or other sharp tools. Prerequisites are everywhere in Scouting. My goal is to help you complete all of them — the smart way!

If you arent yet the rank of First Class, you likely have a few common prerequisites that you’ll still need to complete. By going through my list below of the most common prerequisites for camping, hiking, and outdoor Scouting activities, you can figure out your next steps to advance in rank (5 keys to quick advancement in Scouting) and become a more capable scout.

The prerequisites I’ve listed are the most useful requirements to complete from Tenderfoot through First Class. By finishing these requirements as early as possible, you’ll be less likely to miss out on advanced troop activities:

Prerequisites Tenderfoot Scouts Should Complete ASAP

Prerequisites Second Class Scouts Should Complete ASAP

Prerequisites First Class Scouts Should Complete ASAP

  • Understand and tie the different types of Lashings (First Class)
  • BSA Swimmer’s test (guide): swim 100 yards (First Class)
  • Understand precautions for a safe trip afloat (First Class)
  • First Aid rank requirements up through First Class (First Class)

Having the knowledge under your belt from finishing these prerequisites will allow you to attempt more exciting activities and merit badges. This is where Scouting can really get fun! However, if you haven’t yet completed some of these prerequisites, there are still some Eagle-required merit badges that you can earn.

In the next section, I’ll outline my top 3 merit badge picks for new scouts who may not have earned all of their prerequisites yet.

Easiest Merit Badges Without Prerequisites

The 3 easiest merit badges without prerequisites, in my opinion, are Art, Photography, and Fingerprinting. Each of these badges can be completed in less than a day, and don’t require any additional knowledge beforehand. I’ve actually written a full guide for answering the worksheets and giving you a brief overview of each badge.

To see my guide to the 3 Easiest Merit Badges That You Can Earn, click here!


Completing merit badge prerequisites will allow you to participate in a wider variety of Scouting activities. By wisely choosing the prerequisites you’ll be earning first, you’ll be less likely to miss out on fun troop activities, and will be able to rank up even faster.

At ScoutSmarts, it’s my goal to prepare scouts to have the best possible experience with their troops. If you’ve just joined Scouting, to ensure a great experience right from the start, I’d recommend downloading my Ebook on the 5 Deadliest Scouting Mistakes To Avoid. Plus, It’s free!

In the above article, I detail lessons learned on my road to Eagle, which I would’ve loved to have known right from the start. I hope you found this information on Scouting prerequisites useful, and, until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey! 🙂


I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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