The computer-based DSM examinations are available for administration on a daily basis, Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays, through the LaserGrade Testing Network. Exams are also offered in a paper and pencil format at various national pharmacy conferences.
Each DSM examination consists of 120 questions. Of these, 60 questions have been previously tested and validated and count toward your score. The remaining 60 questions are being pretested for use on future examinations. The pretest questions are indistinguishable from the other questions and are interspersed throughout the examination. Your responses to the pretest questions are recorded for statistical purposes and do not play any part in calculating your score. Only your responses to the 60 validated questions will contribute to your score.
All of the questions on the DSM examinations are five-option multiple-choice items. DSM examination questions have only one correct answer. As you determine which answer is correct, you should consider the five alternatives given and select the best answer from the alternatives listed. You should select the answer that is best among the responses that accompany the question.
Many of the questions on the examination are associated with scenarios or patient profiles, while others are stand-alone items that do not require you to refer to a scenario. Questions associated with a scenario or profile should be answered within the context of the scenario in which they appear. For example, an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor might be the drug of choice to treat most patients who have primary hypercholesterolemia. However, if the profile indicates that the particular patient has active liver disease, another alternative may be more appropriate. It is important that you answer the questions within the context of the scenario/profile.
In no case on the exam will you find that answering one question correctly depends upon correctly answering another question. You will be able to answer each question independently from the questions that surround it. Therefore, answering one scenario question incorrectly does not mean that you will incorrectly answer other questions in that scenario set.
You will have up to three hours of testing time to complete each examination. Additional time will be allowed to review a short tutorial at the beginning as well as a computer-administered questionnaire.