United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

General Information

A Generic Fundamentals Examination (GFE) consists of 50 multiple-choice test items that examine applicant knowledge in three broad categories of nuclear power plant fundamentals: Components, Reactor Theory, and Thermodynamics. Each category contains several major topics, with multiple subtopics, or knowledges. Applicants must successfully pass the GFE with a score of 80 percent before they are eligible to take a facility-specific examination that if also successfully passed may lead to an NRC reactor operator license.

The GFE web site provides access to all test items that have appeared on a GFE and all GFEs that have been administered since January 2001.

Description of GFE Question Banks. The GFE question banks are a collection of test items used on the pressurized water reactor (PWR) and boiling water reactor (BWR) GFEs administered since the inception of the GFE program in September 1988. The GFE web site provides access to both GFE question banks (PWR and BWR). You can choose to view or download questions for an individual topic, category, or an entire GFE question bank for each reactor type.

In addition to a question and answer, each test item in a GFE question bank contains a reference to the associated topic and subtopic or knowledge from the Knowledge and Abilities Catalog for Nuclear Power Plant Operators: PWR ( NUREG-1122) or the Knowledge and Abilities Catalog for Nuclear Power Plant Operators: BWR (NUREG-1123). Importance ratings are also included (e.g., [2.7/2.9]) to indicate the relative importance of the knowledge to an RO or SRO.

Finally, each test item has a unique question identification (QID) number that allows distinction between test items having a common topic and knowledge. The QID number for a test item will begin with either the letter "B" (for BWR) or "P" (for PWR). When two QID numbers are given for a single test item, that test item appears in both the BWR and PWR question banks.

All test items contained in the GFE question banks have undergone both technical and psychometric review and validation. Test developers, reviewers, psychometricians, and NRC subject matter experts review each item for technical accuracy, soundness, and integrity before administering the examination. Finally, after each examination has been administered, industry personnel and test takers have the opportunity to review the examination test items and submit comments to the NRC. The NRC reviews and resolves all comments before the final examination grades are issued. Only those test items that have successfully passed these multiple levels of review and intense scrutiny are entered into the GFE question banks. The GFE question banks will continue to increase in size after administration of each examination.

Potential Uses for GFE Question Banks . The GFE question banks have many potential uses. The GFE question banks allow applicants intending to take the examination the opportunity to review test items to prepare for the examinations. Such reviews can play a key role in helping applicants learn the safety significant content to be mastered for the examination.

The GFE question banks may also be used for educational and training purposes. Training organizations, for example, may use the banks for developing trial or practice examinations, assessing individual or program strengths and weaknesses, or identifying training needs for other groups.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012