How to Concur CPA Exam Task-Based Simulations

Understanding CPA Exam Task-Based Simulations

It’s officially official! The Uniform CPA Examination has started – cue disheartening symphony music. In reality, this doesn’t have to be disheartening at all, you just need to have a plan and know how this impacts your CPA Exam study strategy. One of the most important components of the CPA Exam was (and STILL is) the task-based simulation component. So, we’re going to talk through the ins and outs of task-based simulations. What they are, how they’ve changed, and what you need to know to knock your simulations out of the park come CPA Exam test day.

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What Are CPA Exam Task-Based Simulations?

Task-based simulations are essentially a case study that throws you into the deep end by taking a CPA Exam concept and asking that you navigate through a real-world situation as if you were attacking this challenge in the professional day of a practicing CPA. The point of task-based simulations is to test your understanding and skillset to interpret information and data and problem-solve quickly. In short, this is truly how the AICPA makes sure that you aren’t memorizing a bunch of words, and actually know this stuff!

At first glance, these are going to look ridiculously scary but they can be very easy! Just kidding, task-based simulations on the CPA Exam are probably never going to be “easy”, but if you know how to attack them, they can be “very doable”.


How Difficult Are Task-Based Simulations?

Well for one, there’s a lot less of them when compared to multiple-choice questions on the CPA Exam. For example, the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section of the CPA Exam has 78 questions and only 7 task-based simulations. It’s universally known that task-based simulations are the most challenging aspect of passing the CPA Exams and there is no hiding from them. So, here are a few words of wisdom and how you know that you are truly ready to approach your sims:

Tip 1) Be mindful of time on your CPA Exam. If you are truly prepared to take your CPA Exam, you naturally won’t be spending an enormous amount of time on your multiple-choice questions.

Tip 2) When reading through your task-based simulation description, quickly identify the topic that the sim is covering. Once you’ve identified the topic being covered, you can then start navigating your way through the various exhibits.

Tip 3) Don’t get overwhelmed! I know, easier said than done. When you open up your task-based simulation on exam day, try to refrain from scrambling through all of the exhibits and feeling bombarded by all of the information. Take a deep breath and remind yourself, I know this. Then, think back on the 3-4 most common topics covered when studying in your CPA review course.

How Many Simulations Can I Expect to See On Each Exam?

Not all CPA Exam sections are treated equally, literally! Each CPA Exam section tests a different skillset. For example, the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) CPA Exam section has 50 multiple-choice questions and 7 task-based simulations, which is much less than the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) CPA Exam section as this section contains 78 multiple-choice practice questions and 7 task-based simulations. The reason is because FAR contains more robust mathematical-type questions, which the examiners anticipate will take you a longer amount of time to solve. To elaborate further, you can see the multiple-choice and task-based simulations breakdown below:

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What Types of Task-Based Simulations Can You Expect To See On the CPA Exam?

Research-based simulations – These types of sims will include navigating the authoritative literature. This is a search feature that allows you to search the AICPA’s database and determine and quote where the topic asked is located within the code.

Document review simulations – require CPA candidates to navigate example source documentation, assess the written text, and select the most appropriate option from a drop-down list provided.

Journal entry simulations – provide you with financial information such as a balance sheet, income statement, or example emails that you must analyze and determine the appropriate journal entry associated with the description.

Open response simulations – are simulations that require you to assess the information provided and respond by filling in the blank field, selecting the appropriate answer choice from a dropdown list, or matching the answer choice with the description.

How to Study for Task-Based Simulations:

There is no black and white way to study for task-based simulations. The reality is that there will be 100+ topics that you need to thoroughly understand come exam day, and you are only going to be asked to address 6-8 topics on your task-based simulations on the actual CPA Exam. Universal CPA Review is the best CPA review course for practicing task-based simulations as it breaks down the solutions with a visual format and contains an elaborate video explanation that walks you through it step-by-step.

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