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Document Review Simulation CPA Study Tips

October 9, 2017

document review simulation cpa

As you may know, Task-Based Simulations (TBSs) are one of the primary question types featured on the CPA Exam. As constructive-response questions, TBSs are not only more complex than the other two question types (CPA Exam multiple-choice questions and BEC Written Communications), but they are also more varied.

One kind of TBS you’ll see within the TBS testlets of each exam section is the Document Review Simulation (DRS). DRSs are particularly intricate simulations, so bracing yourself for them requires specific study precautions. Follow these Document Review Simulation CPA study tips to train for these tricky TBSs.

Document Review Simulation CPA Study Tips

  1. Know the exam content on a deeper level
  2. The AICPA designed the DRSs to test candidates’ application, analysis, and/or evaluation skills.

    Skill Levels on the CPA Exam

    Remembering and Understanding

    The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained


    The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques


    The examination and study of the interrelationships of separate areas in order to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences


    The examination or assessment of problems, and use of judgment to draw conclusions

    The CPA Exam expects you to possess these skills by the time you come to a DRS, so you should anticipate this expectation while you’re still in learning mode. As you are reviewing each testable topic, develop these skills simultaneously by considering how you could use the topic, examine it, and make judgments with it. Mulling over the real-world implications of accounting terms and principles allows you to master them at every level. So, when you’re reading your course textbooks or watching the videos, pause to make a correlation between the topics on the exam and the tasks of an accountant.

  1. Memorize the parts of a DRS, not the content

    The content of a practice DRS isn’t the part that will get you ready for a real CPA Exam DRS. Rather, it is the fundamentals of accounting to which the practice DRS refers, the manner in which the practice DRS tests your knowledge of these fundamentals, and the mechanics of the DRS that you need to understand in order to prepare for the exam. Therefore, you should not memorize the content of the DRS because the CPA Exam is not testing you on the content. Consequently, it is highly unlikely that the content you see in a practice DRS will be exactly the same as what you see in a CPA Exam DRS. You should instead focus on knowing the content of the exam section, grasping how the DRSs work, and becoming comfortable with the process of completing one.

  2. Recall your work experience

    DRSs are designed to represent the tasks that newly licensed CPAs must perform. In order to become a CPA, you not only need to pass the CPA Exam, but you also must meet the experience requirements for licensure. It’s a good thing, too, because your accounting occupation can actually help you study for the DRSs as you take on projects that ladder up to the responsibilities of a CPA. As you take practice DRSs, remember times in which you performed the task the DRS expects you to do, such as reviewing and revising an audit request list, reading quarterly financial statements to edit a press release about quarterly earnings, and analyzing tax depreciation worksheets in order to correct a letter to a controller. Similarly, you can also think about your interactions with practice DRSs when you receive new job assignments. You may find that your CPA Exam studies provide you with a better approach to your work or that your work contributes to better comprehension of the DRS. If you discover a task in a DRS that you haven’t yet handled, ask the CPAs you know to walk you through it. This real-world investigation of DRSs can give you a leg up on the CPA Exam.

  3. Apply your exam time limit to your study time

    With DRSs, as with all CPA Exam questions, it’s best to practice like you play. As each CPA Exam section offers only four hours of total testing time, you’ll need to employ a CPA Exam time management system when you sit so you can finish every testlet in time. Using this same time management system on practice DRSs equips you with the self-control you’ll need on exam day. The DRSs appear in the TBSs testlets of each exam section.

    Task-Based Simulations in Each CPA Exam Section

  4. AUD




    Total TBSs





    Testlet 3





    Testlet 4





    Testlet 5


    N/A (WCs)



    You should expect to see at least one DRS within the three AUD, FAR, and REG TBS testlets and within the two BEC TBS testlets. When you are working through these testlets on the CPA Exam, you should allocate approximately 18 minutes to each TBS. Therefore, as you’re answering practice DRSs during your study sessions, you should also try not to spend more than 18 minutes on any of them.

  1. Practice with exam-emulating practice questions as much as possible

    To ensure that you’re extremely confident with the topics addressed, the answering process, the time budget, and the software functionality of a DRS, you should work through exam-emulating practice DRSs consistently. Learning how the CPA Exam functions when you sit in front of it is an unnecessary waste of time and effort, and practice testing is one of the most efficient and effective study methods. Therefore, completing plenty of practice DRSs on a regular basis gives you the exposure you need to be totally comfortable with everything about them. The more chances you have to interact with questions that mirror those on the CPA Exam, the more precious testing time you’ll save by not having to account for adjustments to the interface. To develop your DRS habit, choose a CPA course that includes tons of practice questions. The largest test bank on the market does just that.

CPA Review for Document Review Simulations

Making sure that you’re truly proficient with the exam content and questions, especially the DRS, is a big job, but you don’t have to do it alone. You can trust SmartAdaptTM technology to take care of it for you. SmartAdapt is the innovative adaptive review platform that powers Gleim CPA Review and takes all the guesswork out of your CPA Exam studies. Using this technological advancement, our course pinpoints your weak areas, adjusts to your learning preferences, guides your study sessions, and reports your progress. With SmartAdapt leading you through a personalized review plan, you’ll receive the best DRS preparation available. Preview our customized course today by accessing our free CPA demo.

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