United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Pilot Testing of Fundamentals Examination (Generic Letter No. 88-09)

                                UNITED STATES
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                                May 17, 1988



This letter is to inform facility licensees and potential applicants under 
10 CFR 55 of a pilot testing program of a fundamentals examination for 
Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs). The pilot test is to refine the examination 
development methodology, administration, and grading process. Applicants who
participate in this pilot test and achieve a passing grade of 70 percent or 
more will receive a waiver under 10 CFR 55.47 of the applicable section of 
the written examination under 55.41 or 55.43. 

The staff's review of the content of examinations under 10 CFR 55, which is 
contained in Examiner Standards 202 and 402 of NUREG-1021, "Operator 
Licensing Examiner Standards," indicates that the subject matter presented 
in some sections is generic to all BWRs. The subject matter includes reactor
theory, heat transfer, thermodynamics, fluid flow and component operations. 
The staff's review of current training programs indicates that those topics 
are normally presented early in the operator and senior operator training 
programs. Mastery of these fundamentals is an important first step of 
training, which include 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 to 293000 series of the "Knowledge and Abilities 
(K/A) Catalog for Nuclear Power Plant Operators: Boiling Water Reactors" 
(NUREG-1123). The K/As provided the basis of testing objectives and a bank 
of multiple choice questions has been developed and screened for use in this
examination. The examination will contain approximately 50 multiple choice 
questions and will require approximately three hours to complete. For pilot 
testing, we expect to simultaneously administer the pilot examination at 
each regional office throughout the country. Since the examination will be 
graded by machine, we expect to promulgate the test results within 10 days 
after administration of the examination. 

Copies of the fundamentals examination test sheets will be returned to each 
volunteer and facility training department. Comments by the volunteers and 
training department managers will be accepted and summarized in a subsequent
Commission Paper. The Commission will evaluate a policy to require passing 
the fundamentals examination as a condition for nuclear power plant operator
license applications under 10 CFR 55.31. 


                                     - 2 -

The conditions listed below will apply for pilot testing of the fundamentals

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

o    Volunteers who pass the fundamental examination with a score of 70 
     percent or greater will be granted a waiver of the written examination 
     under 55.47 of Section 1 or Section 5, as appropriate. 

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

o    Pilot testing of this examination is planned for Summer 1988. Licensees
     and volunteers will be informed of the date, time, and location of the 
     examinations within 60 days after the date of this generic letter. 

Licensees interested in participating in this program are requested to 
submit the enclosed application for each candidate to Mr. John N. Hannon, 
Chief, Operator Licensing Branch, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555, with a copy to the 
appropriate Regional Administrator. We appreciate the cooperation of each 
participant. If you have any questions concerning this generic letter, 
please call Mr. Hannon at (301) 492-1031. 

This request was approved by the Office of Management and Budget under 
clearance number 3150-0131. Clearance number 3150-0131 expires August 31, 
1988. Comments on burden and duplication may be directed to the Office of 
Management and Budget, Reports Management, Room 3208, New Executive Office 
Building, Washington, DC 20503. 


                                   Frank J. Miraglia, Associate Director
                                     for Projects
                                   Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation 

Application for Pilot Testing of Fundamentals Examination
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015