Why CPA Exam Candidates Should Practice Simulations to Avoid These 7 Mistakes


Task-based simulations, also known as sims, are a major part of the CPA exam. Changes to the scoring system now give multiple-choice questions and sims equal weight. Mastering simulations is crucial to passing the exam. However, too many candidates overlook the importance of these test sections. Those looking to pass the CPA exam on their first try should avoid these mistakes when it comes to sims.

1Overlooking Practice Sims

CPA exam candidates study around the clock for multiple-choice questions, but they sometimes forget to practice simulations. Solving simulations takes longer than remembering the answers to multiple-choice questions. While most test-takers remember to study sims, they often take shortcuts to solve them. Unfortunately, this only makes them less prepared for the actual exam. Instead, it’s best to practice several simulations and complete CPA Exam Review Courses well before the exam date.

2Skimming the Directions

Each simulation has its own set of instructions. The directions clearly state the expectations of each sim and provide details on how to complete the section. Too often, test-takers read the directions in a hurry. They end up missing crucial steps and losing points. For instance, certain journal entries may instruct candidates to leave specific lines blank instead of writing an answer. Failing to follow these instructions could cause a candidate to fail the exam.

3Not Leaving Enough Time for Simulations

The CPA exam consists of four sections, and each one takes four hours to complete. It’s important to allocate enough time for each simulation section. A good plan is to complete the multiple-choice questions in 90 minutes and allow 2.5 hours to finish the sims. Planning time limits in advance will prevent the candidate from rushing through the simulations.

4Forgetting About the Research Simulation

A solid research strategy is essential to passing the exam. CPA candidates should be able to search through the literature and research quickly. With enough preparation, the research sections should take around 10 minutes each to complete.

5Getting Stuck on a Single Question

During the CPA exam, it’s common for a question or two to stump the candidates. However, test-takers may run out of time if they spend too much time on a single question. Try answering the easiest questions first and leave the tough ones until the end. This strategy ensures you will have plenty of time left over to devote to more time-consuming simulations.

6Ignoring the Authoritative Literature

The answers to difficult sims can often be found in authoritative literature. Use the advanced search functions for guidance on how to approach tricky questions. However, candidates should only search through the authoritative literature after answering the easier simulations. Otherwise, they could run out of time.

7Stressing Over Simulations

The CPA exam is challenging, and the sims are especially difficult. Many test-takers stress out over these sections. Unlike the multiple-choice questions, however, candidates can earn partial credit for their simulation answers. Instead of striving for perfection, it’s better to get as many points as possible. After all, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants only requires a score of 75 to pass a section.

Breeze Through the CPA Exam

Taking the CPA exam doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Walking into the test room with a strategy to finish the simulations is a must. Knowing what to expect beforehand will ensure you can pass the test with flying colors.


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