Posted On: January 18, 2018

NERC Certification Exam Prep FAQ

The regulation of bulk power systems is critical for the reliable production of power. A disruption can affect many locations and customers.

The bulk-power system includes facilities and control systems that operate an interconnected electric energy transmission network and electric energy from generation facilities maintaining transmission system reliability.

Do you need NERC certification and wonder what it’s all about and what’s required? Read on for a rundown of NERC certification exam prep basics.

Individual Course

1102 NERC and Regional Coordinating Authority: Eastern and Western Interconnection

Discover the importance of coordination while carrying out emergency operations.

Individual Course

7516 Controlling to NERC Standards: Generation Control and Performance

Learn about NERC standards related to generation control and performance.

Individual Course

7517 Controlling to NERC Standards: Aspects of System Operations

Learn about NERC TOP and VAR Standards: operating security limits and more.

Individual Course

7518 Controlling to NERC Standards: Power System Transactions and Coordination

Learn the NERC requirements related to the transfer of energy on the power system.

Individual Course

9300 NERC Reliability Standards Compliance Awareness

Study three key NERC standards: CIP-004, PER-005, and TOP-007.

Individual Course

9600 NERC CIP Training

Study NERC's Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) and Reliability Standards.


What is NERC?

NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) monitors, regulates, and implements compliance policies for power system operators. All power plant companies providing bulk-power plant systems, power generation, power transmission, and power distribution in the U.S. and Canada are required to comply with NERC standards.

NERC promotes safe power systems through their array of NERC reliability standards. The NERC Reliability Standards are the widely accepted regulatory standards for bulk-power system operators, owners, and workers. NERC uses these standards for audits ensuring efficient, safe, and reliable power sources for households and business operations.

How are NERC Standards Applied?

NERC compliance aims to ensure safety and efficiency in all generation and distribution companies using different kinds of power sources. Key ways NERC ensures standards compliance include:

  1. NERC monitoring of power plants to measure and specify possible improvements and changes.
  1. Enforcement of current standards and compliance procedures for the whole operation.
  1. Registration and recognition of power system operators as fully functioning using NERC reliability standards.
  1. Certification of power plants and companies as certified NERC-compliant, which includes employee training and orientation.
  1. Regional compliance and monitoring of certified power plant companies to ensure possible violations aren’t overlooked.

What is NERC System Operator Certification?

To promote the reliability of the North American power system, the System Operator Certification Program seeks to ensure system operators meet minimum qualifications. Once an operator passes an exam, he or she must maintain certification by completing NERC‐approved continuing education every three years.

What is the NERC Exam?

Qualification is done by testing operators’ specific knowledge of job skills and Reliability Standards. NERC’s system operator certification exam prepares operators to handle normal and emergency operations in bulk power systems.

The exam is based on job analysis surveys of certified operators across the industry. This information also forms the content outline for the four exams:

  1. Reliability Exam: 120 scored questions
  2. Balancing, Interchange, and Transmission Exam: 120 scored questions
  3. Transmission Exam: 100 scored questions
  4. Balancing Exam: 100 scored questions

What Do the Exams Cover?

NERC provides exam content outlines listing the knowledge areas tested and the number of questions asked. Each exam will test the following major knowledge areas:

  • Resource and Demand Balancing
  • Transmission
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Emergency Response
  • Contingency Analysis and Reliability
  • Communications and Data

Each knowledge area contains three to five sub-topics.

What does a NERC Certification Exam Prep Cover?

As you might expect, a NERC certification exam prep will cover the major subjects tested in the four NERC exams. The NERC Certification Exam Training packages are made for non–certified operators in preparation for the exam.

Topics include a three–part review on system operations and a NERC Certification exam preparation that counts as both completion exam and eight CE hours:

  • Module 1: Power Generation, Transmission, and Interchange
  • Module 2: System Protection and Control
  • Module 3: System Operations and PSR
  • Module 4: Practice Exam offers four packages, each including a practice exam for one of the four NRC exams. Note that these courses do not replace the need for a good foundation of basic electricity, as well as familiarization with system operations and NERC Standards.

NERC recommends that the NERC certification exam content outlines be used in conjunction with NERC Reliability Standards and power system operation reference books and materials.

What are the Course Objectives?

After completing a NERC Certification Exam Training program, learners should be ready to take the exam and be able to:

  • Describe how power generation, transmission, and interchange relate to and support bulk electric system reliability.
  • Explain how the key components of System Protection and System Control support reliability.
  • Discus how specific system operations in routine and power system restoration (PSR) serve to maintain and/or restore system reliability.

The best way to refresh your knowledge of NERC standards and effectively prepare for the exam is with online training from With convenient on-demand NERC continuing education and exam preps you get fast, easy completion, no classroom attendance required, and unlimited 24x7 online customer support.

Choose the experienced, trusted e-learning provider that’s helped over 500,000 people get certified nationwide. Enroll today!

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