CPA Exam Tips – Simulations 101January 1, 2022
To become a CPA (certified public accountant), candidates must pass a scrupulous, four-part exam called the “Uniform CPA Examination.” The four parts of the CPA exam are Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Regulation (REG), and Business jamb expo Environment and Concepts (BEC). The FAR, AUD and REG exams include simulations, a unique question format that involves the ability of the candidate to use their comprehension of CPA exam topics in real-life situations. Read on to learn more about the simulation portion of the CPA exam.
In the three types of CPA exams that use simulations 30% of a candidate’s score is related to simulation performance (10 points from each simulation plus the 10 points from one of the written communication sections combine to equal 30 points). This is a pretty large portion of your score, so it is important to not just nail the MCQs, but ace the simulations as well.
Many CPA exam candidates feel that the simulation portions are one of the hardest parts of the exam by far, but what exactly are simulations? For those of you that have never taken the exam or taken a CPA exam review course, simulations are more in-depth questions designed to test candidates on their knowledge and skills using real-life work situations. Unlike the multiple choice questions on the exam that allow test takers to simply guess if they do not know the answer, these simulation case studies are more action-based and require a deeper level of logical thinking. Additionally, about one-third of the simulation portion relates to the candidate’s ability to demonstrate effective writing skills.
The information tabs consist of directions, resources and additional information that will need to be used throughout the case study. The directions tab gives an overview of the simulation portion, detailing each of the tabs and their purposes. The resources tab provides pertinent formulas and information that will help complete the simulation tasks. Additionally on the actual simulation there may be other tabs besides directions and resources – such as a “company profile” page. The information tabs should be used as reference guides to help solve the overall simulation tasks.
The work tabs are where the simulation tasks are actually completed. The work tabs will vary from exam to exam based on what the simulation is asking you to do. All the given tasks must be completed in order on the work tabs in order to receive credit – so make sure you check, double check and even triple check your work if time allows (this is the part when time management becomes essential).
The work tabs include the written communication portions of the exam where candidates must read a description or document and construct a response to the situation. The written answer must be relative to the topic and use correct business writing, grammar and organization. The written response is graded for both technical content and writing skills. Technical content is evaluated for information that is helpful to the intended reader and clearly relevant to the issue. Writing skills are evaluated for development, organization, and the appropriate expression of ideas in professional correspondence.
This tab contains both the Research task and the Authoritative Literature (reference materials consisting of FASB Current Text and Original Pronouncements, AICPA Professional Standards, and the Tax Code). Here the candidate must use search and research skills to sift through documents and find the right answer to a prompted question. (Authoritative Literature can also be used as a resource for completing other tasks.) Points are given for correctly selecting the appropriate document that contains the right answer. This tab is worth the least amount of points, so if you are strapped for time, make sure you do it last.