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. From October 1, 1989 until March 16, 2022 (last examination administered in September 2021), applicants were required to 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, subject to medical certification.

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.

Potential Uses for GFE Question Banks: Since the fundamental type questions were reincorporated into the site-specific examination, the GFE question banks can be used as a resource for the facility examination writers to develop sound fundamentals questions and tailor them to the nuclear plant(s) the applicant will be licensed on.

Applicants sitting for the initial licensing examination may continue to use the GFE bank as a study-aid to practice concepts while accounting for any unique characteristics of the plant(s) that they intend to be licensed.

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.