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Examination Schedule and Results

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The operator licensing examination schedule and the results of the initial operator licensing examinations are found below. 

The operator licensing examinations are administered in each of the four (4) NRC regions, at the respective facility licensee.  The location and frequency of the operator licensing examination are determined by the facility licensee's need and NRC's examination standards. 

Title 10, Part 55, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 55) requires that applicants for reactor operator (RO) and senior reactor operator (SRO) licenses must pass both a written examination and an operating test (both initially and for requalification). The SRO applicant must score an 80% or better on the overall written examination (100 questions) and a 70% or better on the SRO-only portion of the written examination (25 questions) and pass the operating test. The RO applicants must score an 80% or better on the written examination (75 questions) and pass the operating test.

The following 14 graphs illustrate the results of the initial operator licensing examinations (applicants taking retake exams are excluded). The graphs provide historical data of the performance of reactor operator (RO) and senior reactor operator (SRO) license applicants in both the written examination and the operating test.  The graphs are presented based on the fiscal year (FY) in which the examination was administered for each of the last 10 FYs (each FY runs from October 1 of one year through September 30 of the following year).

As can be seen from the first 10 graphs listed, in general, the performance of the RO and SRO license applicants has slightly increased over the past 10 years.  This is caused by a number factors which may include, but not limited to, change to standards and regulations, as well as the facility licensees' initiative to have more selective and stringent training programs (i.e., only the most qualified RO and SRO license applicants with the highest probability of success are being administered the examinations).  Yet, the performance of the RO and SRO applicants over the past 10 years still displays several relatively consistent characteristics.  For RO license applicants, the overall pass-rate is approximately 78% or greater, with the distribution centered around 88% to 96%.  For SRO license applicants, the overall pass-rate is approximately 84% or greater, with the distribution centered on a smaller spread between 90% and 95%.  The overall written examination grades are approximately 86% to 89% for RO license applicants (92% to 95% pass-rate) and approximately 87% to 89% for SRO license applicants (94% to 98% pass-rate). Additionally, the graphs show SRO license applicants tend to score better on the overall written exam than they do on the SRO-only portion (i.e., 89.2% vs. 86.4%, respectively, for FY17).  The operating test pass-rate is approximately 98% to 100% for RO license applicants and approximately 97% to 99% for SRO license applicants.  

The two RO and SRO Written Examination Performance Trend graphs summarize the written examination performance history over the past 10 years for RO and SRO license applicants.  For each FY, the chart shows the percentage of the total number of examinations that had zero failures, one failure, two failures, etc. For example, in FY 2017, about 89% of the RO written exams (i.e., 31 of 35) and about 90% of the SRO written exams (i.e., 36 of 40) had zero failures; about 9% of the RO written exams (i.e., 3 of 35) and 5% of the SRO written examination (i.e., 2 of 40) had one failure; and about 3% of the RO written exams (i.e., 1 of 35) and 5% of the SRO written exams (i.e., 2 of 40) had two failures.  In FY 2017, zero written exams had more than two applicants fail.  The charts illustrate that 70% or more of the RO and SRO written examinations over the past 10 years have had zero failures.  Overall, the vast majority of written examinations result in two or less failures (i.e., all 10 years show over 90% of the examinations have had two or less failures).

The two Historical Performance graphs summarize (1) the likelihood of a failure on a particular portion of the examination and (2) provide a comparison of applicant performance based on the author (i.e., NRC or facility licensee) of the examination. As shown in the first graph, RO and SRO license applicants fail the written examination portion more commonly than the operating test – approximately 5.5% of applicants fail the written examination and 1.6% fail the operating test. As shown in the second graph, applicants perform relatively consistently no matter the initial licensing exam author (note: NRC-developed examinations are much less common so data is limited).

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Operator Licensing Examination Schedules

See the operator licensing examination and on-site validation schedules for each of the four regional offices:

All the schedules are in portable document format (PDF). See our Plugins, Viewers, and Other Tools page for more information.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, April 16, 2018