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What are Task-Based Simulations?

June 26, 2017

Task-Based Simulations

The CPA Exam consists of three question types: multiple choice (MCQ), Task-Based Simulation (TBS), and Written Communication (WC). AUD, FAR, and REG have 8 TBSs, while BEC has 4 TBSs and 3 WCs.

To properly prepare for the CPA Exam, you will need to know these exam staples inside and out, so start by learning about Task-Based Simulations, their different parts, and how to practice with them.

CPA Exam TBS Overview

 AUD  BEC  FAR  REG
 Number of TBSs  8  4  8  8
 Scoring Weight of TBSs  50%  35%  50%  50%
 Number of WCs  0  3  0  0
 Scoring Weight of WCs  N/A  15%  N/A  N/A

As a form of a constructive-response question, a Task-Based Simulation calls for a candidate to finish four to eight tasks using information provided. Completing a task may involve choosing the correct answer from a pop-up list, filling out tax forms, entering formulas or amounts into a spreadsheet, or selecting correct responses in a Document Review Simulation (also called a Document Review or DRS). You can learn more about the DRS in our CPA Exam video series. Each TBS also includes at least one research question. Research tasks require candidates to search the relevant authoritative literature and cite the appropriate guidance.

Task-Based Simulations help CPA Exam candidates demonstrate their ability to apply technical accounting knowledge to practical situations with refined skill and appropriate judgment. They also expect candidates to possess a sufficient grasp of the professional responsibilities of a CPA.

Parts of Task-Based Simulations

Task-Based Simulations include several helpful components such as:

  • Work Tabs: The titles of these tabs and the gradable responses they require vary. A pencil icon marks the work tabs, and the answer boxes within these tabs change color to indicate that a response has been made but is not necessarily complete.
  • Informational Tabs: The Resources tab is an example of an informational tab. Resources include pertinent documents and useful tools such as tax rates, formulas, present value tables, and spreadsheet operators and functions.
  • Directions Tab: This tab appears near the bottom and should be consulted first for a full introduction to the navigation, tabs, toolbar, and tasks. Hint: We recommend you explore this tab in our exam-emulating course so you don’t have to waste valuable time on your actual exam day learning how to navigate the TBSs.
  • Authoritative Literature: This tab contains sections of distinct resources such as the AICPA Professional Standards (for AUD), the FASB Codification (for FAR), the Tax Code (for REG), and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
  • Help Button: This button demonstrates the process of completing the task.
  • Calculator: A basic calculator assists with completing calculations.
  • Spreadsheet: This simple tool aids work with formulas.

Practice with Task-Based Simulations

Since TBSs account for 50% of CPA Exam scores for AUD, FAR, and REG, candidates should direct a significant portion of their study time toward comprehending and acclimating to this specific type of question. You can also use the largest CPA Exam test bank found in Gleim CPA Review Systems to practice completing Task-Based Simulations. To ensure that you have a full understanding not only of the process of answering a TBS but also the content tested on TBSs, Gleim includes detailed answer explanations for each TBS tab. You can also learn how to study for CPA Task-Based Simulations and get Task-Based Simulations CPA Exam testing tips from Gleim CPA.

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