|A method and apparatus mechanism for testing data processing devices are implemented. The test mechanism isolates critical paths by correlating a scanning microscope image with a selected speed path failure. A trigger signal having a preselected value is generated at the start of each pattern vector. The sweep of the scanning microscope is controlled by a computer, which also receives and processes the image signals returned from the microscope. The value of the trigger signal is correlated with a set of pattern lines being driven on the DUT. The trigger is either asserted or negated depending the detection of a pattern line failure and the particular line that failed. In response to the detection of the particular speed path failure being characterized, and the trigger signal, the control computer overlays a mask on the image of the device under test (DUT). The overlaid image provides a visual correlation of the failure with the structural elements of the DUT at the level of resolution of the microscope itself.