United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Pilot Testing of the Fundamentals Examination (Generic Letter 89-05)

 				              UNITED STATES
                          NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                             WASHINGTON, D.C.  20555

                                  April 4, 1989


TO:       LICENSEES OF ALL POWER REACTORS AND APPLICANTS FOR A REACTOR 
          OPERATOR'S LICENSE UNDER 10 CFR PART 55

SUBJECT:  PILOT TESTING OF THE FUNDAMENTALS EXAMINATION (Generic Letter 89-05)

This letter is to inform facility licensees and potential applicants under 
10 CFR Part 55 that the NRC is offering a second pilot test of the 
fundamentals examination for candidates for an NRC operator's license.  During 
this pilot test, examinations will be administered to candidates for a license 
to operate both Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and Pressurized Water Reactors 
(PWRs). The pilot test will be used to refine the development, administration, 
and grading process for the fundamentals examination.  Applicants who 
participate in this pilot test and achieve a passing grade of 70 percent or a 
higher percentage will receive a waiver under 10 CFR 55.47 of the applicable 
section of the written examination that is required by 10 CFR 55.41 or 55.43.

The staff's review of the content of examinations prepared in accordance with 
10 CFR Part 55 and the Examiner Standards 301 and 401 of NUREG-1021, "Operator 
Licensing Examiner Standards," Revision 5, indicates that the subject matter 
presented in some sections is generic to all BWRs or all PWRs.  The subject 
matter includes reactor theory, heat transfer, thermodynamics, fluid flow, and 
component operations.  The staff's review of current training programs 
indicates that these topics are normally presented early in the operator and 
senior operator training programs.  Mastery of this fundamentals subject 
matter is an important first step of training, which includes systems and 
plant characteristics, on-the-job training, and simulator training.

In developing the fundamentals examination, the staff used subject matter 
contained in the 291000 through 293000 series of the "Knowledge and Abilities 
(K/A) Catalog for Nuclear Power Plant Operators: Boiling Water Reactors" 
(NUREG-1123), and the 191000 through 193000 series of the "Knowledge and 
Abilities (K/A) Catalog for Nuclear Power Plant Operators: Pressurized Water 
Reactors" (NUREG-1122).  The K/As provided the basis for the testing 
objectives from which a bank of multiple choice questions has been developed 
and screened for use in this examination.  Each examination will contain 
approximately 50 multiple choice questions and will require approximately 3 
hours to complete.  We plan to administer the pilot examinations at one 
central location in each region.  As the examinations will be graded by 
machine, we expect to promulgate the test results within 10 days after the 
administration of the examination.

Copies of the fundamentals examination test sheets will be returned to each 
volunteer and facility training department for comment.  The NRC staff will 
summarize any comments received in a Commission paper.  After reviewing this 
summary, the Commission will evaluate a policy to require passing the 
fundamentals examination as a prerequisite condition to applying for a license 
to operate a nuclear power plant under 10 CFR 55.31.


8903300106
.                                      - 2 -


The following conditions will apply to pilot testing of the fundamentals 
examination:

- The Commission will waive the usual requirements under 10 CFR 55.31,
"Subpart D - Applications."  Therefore, Form NRC-398 does not need to be 
submitted.

- Volunteers should be enrolled in either a facility-sponsored reactor
operator or senior reactor operator training course.

- Volunteers who pass the fundamentals examination with a score of 70 percent 
or a higher percentage will be granted a waiver under 10 CFR 55.47 of the 
appropriate section (1 or 4) of the written examination.

- Volunteers who do not achieve a grade of 70 percent will subsequently be 
able to take the entire regularly scheduled written examination at the site.  
As a formal application under 10 CFR 55.31 is not required, the provisions of 
10 CFR 55.35, "Re-applications," will not apply.

- Pilot testing of these examinations is planned for June 28, 1989.   You will 
be informed of the exact time, and location of the examinations within 60 days 
after the date of this generic letter.

Candidates interested in participating in this program are requested to submit 
the enclosed application to Mr. Kenneth E. Perkins, Chief, Operator Licensing 
Branch, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, Washington, D.C.  20555, with a copy to the appropriate Regional 
Administrator.  These applications must be received by April 21, 1989, to 
ensure participation in these pilot tests.  We appreciate your cooperation.  
If you have any questions concerning this generic letter, please call Mr. 
Perkins at (301) 492-1031.

This request is covered by Office of Management and Budget Clearance Number 
3150-0090 which expires January 31, 1992.  The estimated average burden is 2 
hours per response.  Comments on the accuracy of this estimate and suggestions 
to reduce the burden may be directed to the Office of Management and Budget, 
Paperwork Reduction Project (3150-0090), Room 3208, New Executive Office 
Building, Washington, D.C.  20503, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Records and Reports Management Branch, Office of Information Resources 
Management, Washington, D.C. 20555.

                                   Sincerely,



                                   Steven A. Varga, Acting
                                   Associate Director for Projects 
                                   Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

Enclosure:
Application for Pilot Testing
of Fundamentals Examination

.
                                                                 Enclosure
                                                                 (GL 89-05)


I,                                   , employed at the                     
          (Name)                                         (Station Name)

     50-                 request participation in the Pilot Test Program of 
(Facility Docket Number)

the Fundamentals Examination for an operator or a senior operator license.  I


agree to the conditions outlined in GL-89-(05).




                         Applicant:                                                                         
                         Date


                         Approved:                                                                          
                         Training Department Manager     
                         Date

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