What Are Task-Based Simulations?

What CPA task-based simulations are

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 components, 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:

  • Exhibits: Exhibits may contain information that is necessary to complete the simulation. In most cases, numbers from exhibits can be copied and pasted into the answer fields. The tools at the top right of the screen allow you to change the layout of open exhibits or close all open exhibits at once.
  • Calculator: The calculator is a basic tool for simple calculations. It is similar to calculators used in common software programs.
  • Excel: Excel functions like the desktop version of the software and should be used to perform complex calculations. You can copy and paste from Excel to the answer fields or calculator and vice versa.
  • Authoritative Literature: The Authoritative Literature tool is available in every TBS testlet for each section. You can use either the Table of Contents or the Search function to locate the correct guidance when researching in AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG simulations. However, note that although Authoritative Literature will be available in BEC, you do not need it. Practically speaking, it is just a distraction on the BEC section, and you should not spend any of your valuable time looking at it.
  • Overview: The Overview icon launches a pop-up box that contains the first sentence of each question in the testlet in numerical order. Here you may flag questions or review previously flagged questions.
  • Help: The Help tool provides guidance on the most important functions and tools on the exam. It contains directions and general information but will not include information related specifically to the test content.
  • Question Navigation: To navigate between questions, click any number icon in the navigation bar under the clock, one of the arrows surrounding the orange number icon at the top left of the simulation, or one of the arrows at the bottom of the screen. Clicking the flag icon next to the orange number above the simulation serves as a reminder to go back and review the TBS again if you have time.

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.