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PAMA Global Q & A

How do I become a member of PAMA?

  1. Review new membership applications

  2. Assist member with matters related to the certification exam

  3. Assist host countries with matters related to the international competition

  4. Moderate the post-competition meeting and the annual meeting

  5. Provide various educational materials (available for additional fees)

  6. Provide professional instructor training (available for additional fees)

  7. Provide classroom materials (available for additional fees)

  8. Provide Instructional Videos for Teachers (available for additional fees)

  9. Administer professional instructor certification program

  10. Provide abacus and mental arithmetic encyclopedia

  11. Moderate online discussion panel or seminar (available for additional fees)

  12. Answer questions in regard to abacus and mental arithmetic

PAMA Secretariat’s Responsibilities and the Services it provides

PAMA was originally named Pan Pacific Abacus and Mental Arithmetic Association. To better represent members from all over the world, it was later renamed to PAMA Global Abacus and Mental Arithmetic Association. PAMA was founded in 1999 and it has since become the world’s most reputable and influential organization of abacus and mental arithmetic.


PAMA is famous for its professional instructor training program. Along with the unique instructor certification program, PAMA aims to standardize the instructor credentials and give these professionals the recognition they deserve. Members of PAMA gather for its annual international competition in a different country every year. Currently, PAMA has 25 member countries from all continents.

How do I register for the PAMA Instructor Training Program?

Do I need to become a member first? Will I become certified after completing the training?

PAMA’s Certification Exam is designed to work with each student’s progression. It has several advantages:

  1. The certification exam covers everything between the basic (Level 12) to the highest level (Level 1). Beyond Level 1, there are also Advanced Levels (Advanced Level 1 to 15). There are 27 levels in total.

  2. Level 12 to Level 7 include basic curriculum. Level 6 to Level 4 include intermediate curriculum. Level 3 to Level 1 include advanced curriculum. Advanced levels are for professional instructors.

  3. Each level is clearly distinguishable and easy to follow. Students will be able to work at their own pace.

  4. PAMA exam is composed of two components: abacus and mental arithmetic. Both components include three subjects: addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. The design aims to help students develop a rounded and balanced calculation skill.

  5. Certification is a great way to test students on their skills and serves as a great incentive. Students who pass the exam successfully will receive a certificate of their current level.

  6. Teachers can plan their syllabus around the Certification Exam. They can also examine their syllabus and instruction based on the exam results.

How does PAMA Certification Exam work? What are its benefits to teachers and students?

PAMA’s Instructor Training Program contains four phases. Each phase includes 20 hours of training that is delivered over three days. Participants who complete the training will be awarded a Certificate of Completion. At the end of each training session, there will be a certification exam. Participants who pass the exam will be awarded a professional instructor certificate that corresponds to the training phase. There are four different levels of instructor certificate. They are distinguished by the stars on the certificates (one-star to four-star).

There are no prerequisites for the first phase training. Anyone interested in abacus and mental arithmetic can attend the first phase training. Companies that wish to start their own abacus and mental arithmetic program are also encouraged to contact us. Companies can decide whether they wish to apply for membership after attending our training session.

Only teachers from companies with membership will have access to second phase training course and above.

How do I register for the PAMA international competition? What are the requirements?

PAMA International Competition is held in a different country every year, usually at the end of the year. Since 1999, there has been 20 PAMA international competitions and annual meetings. The competition is scheduled to take place in Iran in 2021, in Russia in 2022, in either India or China in 2023 and in Saudi Arabia in 2024.


PAMA International Competition divides the contestants into five groups based on their ages.

If we use 2021 Competition as an example:


Group A: Students who were born in or after 2014

Group B: Students who were born in 2012 and 2013

Group C: Students who were born in 2010 and 2011

Group D: Students who were born in 2008 and 2009

Group E: Students who were born between 1999 and 2007


The contents of the competition correspond to the Certification Exam System

Group A: Level 8 questions

Group B: Level 7 questions

Group C: Level 6 questions

Group D: Level 5 questions

Group E: Level 4 questions


All registrations and fees must be submitted to the PAMA members in their respective countries. Direct applications from individual and companies will not be accepted.

What is the different between one-hand and two-hand abacus operation methods?

PAMA primarily advocates the one-hand method. One-hand method has always been the preferred choice since the birth of abacus. Abacus was used primarily in commerce. The clerks in the past held the abacus and flipped the pages of the account books with their left hands. The right hand was responsible for moving the beads on the abacus.

After the invention of the electronic calculator, abacus shifted its focus to early childhood development. As a learning tool, its main users are now young children around the age of five. The most basic aspect of math is incorporating the concepts of numbers and quantities.

Therefore, the one-hand method is a better way to familiarize young children with these concepts. Some programs claim that the two-hand method yields faster speed and stimulate both hemispheres of the brain.

Any type of mental arithmetic requires the collaboration of both hemispheres. The one-hand method also has the advantage of being easy to learn and operate. Therefore, it is a better option for young students.

What are the benefits of learning abacus and mental arithmetic? How long do students need to study abacus and mental arithmetic?

Is it possible to have a long-term collaboration with PAMA?

PAMA can offer professional-grade materials and instruction knowledge companies that are interested in long-term collaboration. There are several advantages of pursuing a long-term collaboration.


  1. PAMA offers multiple years of the proven instructor training program, reducing the costs and time of experimentation and ensuring the teachers provide the best knowledge to students.

  2. The companies can save the money and time of developing their own program. Many companies often miss out on crucial details when they develop their own curriculum and waste precious opportunities in the early stage.

  3. PAMA can lower the costs of operation by collaborating with different companies around the world and the biggest beneficiaries are PAMA’s partners. For only some investment, PAMA’s partners have access to a recognizable brand and sustainable program. This is a win-win situation that benefits all parties.

  4. PAMA’s reputations are great for marketing purposes and help its members take a big step onto the international stage. PAMA can also offer help in starting franchise and multi-layered operations. A collaboration is definitely a good investment.

The main purpose for abacus and mental arithmetic is to improve students’ computation on primary operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Students will benefit greatly with an improved computation ability. It is important to learn the correct techniques and knowledge at this stage. Otherwise, it might have negative consequences.


Students can also improve their memory and focus by training in abacus and mental arithmetic. Students will be more confident in math classes and in their abilities. These are some of the immediate benefits.


To answer the last question: the answers will change depending on the goals and skills that students want. Generally, we suggest aiming for Level 3 on the abacus and obtaining the skills to solve 2-digit 6 rows addition and subtraction,2 x 2 multiplication and 4 ÷ 2 division in mental arithmetic

PAMA membership offers membership to companies or organizations that meets the following criteria and responsibilities:

  1. A legally registered abacus and mental arithmetic program that is at least five years old and has at least 500 students

  2. Membership Admission Fee: $2,000 USD (due at the time of admission)

  3. Annual membership Fee: $1,000 USD (due at the meeting every year)

  4. All official members are required to participate in PAMA’s Certification Exam. At least 500 exams every year are required

  5. At least 5 contestants must participate in the international competition every year

  6. No existing PAMA member in your country (PAMA members are the sole representatives of PAMA in their countries)

  7. PAMA members must admit other schools or companies in they intend to participate in the certification exam and competition

  8. Membership is renewed every year. The chairperson will receive a new membership certificate every year.

How do I become a member of PAMA?

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