The DT-PAM tests and yields a score for each of the 21 different competencies required for success in algebra. Some of the 21 areas tested by the DT-PAM are:
- Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of common fractions and mixed numbers
- Signed numbers
- Rounding and estimating
- Word problems
- Reading tables and graphs
The format of the DT-PAM was chosen based on several considerations. First, it increases the reliability of the scale scores, since score reliability tends to be proportional to the number of answer choices. Second, it reduces the score that would be expected if a student was merely guessing. Third, it reduces the feasibility of "working questions backward" (i.e., trying each answer to see if it satisfies the conditions of the question). Fourth, it mimics the effect of "open-response" questions on many state-wide tests.