CPA Exam Document Review Simulations: DRS

CPA exam document review simulations

Within the Task-Based Simulation (TBS) testlets of each section of the CPA Exam, you may encounter a Document Review Simulation (DRS). CPA Exam Document Review Simulations are an intricate question type that offer a unique challenge to CPA candidates, but you can prepare to best DRSs by learning more about them.

An Explanation of CPA Exam Document Review Simulations

The DRS is a type of Task-Based Simulation in which candidates will be given a realistic document and the source materials that go with it. The document will contain highlighted words, phrases, sentences, or even paragraphs that may or may not be correct. The candidate will be responsible to determine which edits are necessary, if any at all.

The Purpose of CPA Exam Document Review Simulations

The AICPA designed the DRS to test the candidates’ application, analysis, and/or evaluation skills and thereby increase the exam’s authenticity. The DRS represents tasks that most if not all newly licensed CPAs must perform. Licensed CPAs are expected to create and edit documents like those found in each DRS, so CPA candidates must be prepared to do the same in order to qualify for the certification.

The Number of CPA Exam Document Review Simulations

As mentioned, the DRSs will present themselves within the TBS testlets of each section of the CPA Exam. There are five testlets total for each exam section, and the TBS testlets appear after the two multiple-choice (MCQ) testlets that you will see first. AUD, FAR, and REG each have 3 testlets that present a total of 8 TBSs, so the TBSs appear in Testlets 3, 4, and 5 for these sections. You should expect to see at least 1 DRS within these 3 testlets. BEC has 2 testlets that contain a total of 4 TBSs, and the TBSs show up in Testlets 3 and 4 for this section. Again, you should brace yourself for at least 1 BEC DRS. The fifth BEC testlet is dedicated to Written Communications (WCs) rather than TBSs. For AUD, FAR, and REG, the TBS testlets contribute 50% of your total score, and they provide 35% of your total score for BEC.

CPA Exam Task-Based Simulations Overview





Total TBSs





Testlet 3





Testlet 4





Testlet 5


N/A (WCs)



Scoring Weight






The Components of CPA Exam Document Review Simulations

The DRSs always include the actual document you must review and correct, a help tab, and several resources that vary from one DRS to the next.

This image reveals the various tabs that compose a DRS toolbar. Standardized tabs are

  • The Document Review tab, which returns candidates to the actual document if they have moved to another tab, and
  • The Help tab, which gives detailed information on what is expected and displays in blue each portion of text that must be edited

Other tabs that may appear on a DRS include the following:

  • The Exhibits tab, which contains relevant documents such as a letter of attorney, a valuation report, an announcement to shareholders about acquisition, and an invoice containing stock prices
  • The Resources tab, which features helpful items such as emails, memoranda, balance sheets, or minutes from meetings
  • The Authoritative Literature tab, which links to the FASB Codification Table of Contents where candidates can conduct any necessary research
  • The Financial Statements tab, which links to the related financial data

The Process of Completing CPA Exam Document Review Simulations

To effectively answer a DRS, follow these steps.

  1. Begin by familiarizing yourself with every part of the DRS.

    Review each tab so you know what is being asked and what information is available. Along with the Document Review tab and the Help tab, some DRSs feature more tabs named for other useful documents they hold.

  2. Read each underlined section and answer choice carefully and completely.

    Each underlined portion of text will be followed by a blue icon with a white outline inside. Clicking the underlined text reveals five to seven answer choices that may include the option to revise the text, retain the original text, or delete the text. Verify that each word or amount is correct in your choice before making your answer selection. To finalize your answer, you must click the “Accept” button.You must make an answer selection for every modifiable section of a DRS because each counts as a separate question. You will know an answer has been selected when you see that the white outline in the blue icon has changed to a white exam document review simulations

  3. Completely understand the information in the exhibits.

    Quickly survey the various items, then specifically analyze the most relevant facts to reduce the possible answer choices. Keep in mind that the relevant information may be presented or worded differently than in the document you are exam document review simulations

  4. Double-check that you have responded to each underlined portion of text.

    If you have time, go through the entire DRS once more to confirm that every underlined section has a white checkmark next to it.

The Preparation for CPA Exam Document Review Simulations

While the DRS does include many moving parts and tests your skills at higher levels than some other CPA Exam questions, it can be perfectly manageable with sufficient practice. Before you face a DRS on the actual CPA Exam, you’ll need to develop a strong understanding of the exam content and a lengthy history with this question type. When you depend on Gleim CPA for your CPA exam prep, you’ll get all that and more.

Gleim CPA Review features our innovative SmartAdaptTM technology that leads you down a personalized learning path to CPA Exam success by assessing your study needs and then directing you to focus on your weak areas. SmartAdaptTM also tracks the difficulty level of the questions you’ve answered, just like the AICPA does. SmartAdapt then presents detailed visual analytics so you have an accurate view of your study status. This perspective is crucial for your DRS preparation, so see SmartAdaptTM in action by accessing our free CPA course demo today!