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CPA Exam: What are Task-Based Simulations?

task-based simluations

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The CPA Exam consist of three question types: multiple choice (MCQ), Task-Based Simulations (TBS), and written communication (WC). On the current version of the exam, TBSs appear on the AUD, FAR, and REG sections, and Written Communications replace TBSs on BEC. However, the format of the next version of the CPA Exam will raise the number of TBSs in these sections and add TBSs to BEC as well. BEC will continue to be the only exam section to require candidates to complete WCs. The CPA Exam will also feature the Document Review Simulation (DRS), a new version of a Task-Based Simulation, starting July 1, 2016.

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.

Task-Based Simulations

As a form of constructive-response question, a Task-Based Simulation calls for a candidate to finish six or seven tasks using information provided. Completing a task may involve choosing the correct answer from a pop-up list, filling out tax forms, or entering formulas or amounts into a spreadsheet. Each TBS 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 house two types of tabs: work tabs and informational tabs.

  • 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: Informational tabs include
    • Directions: 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.
    • Resources: This tab includes pertinent documents and useful tools such as tax rates, formulas, present value tables, and spreadsheet operators and functions.
    • 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: This tab demonstrates the process of completing the task.

Practice with Task-Based Simulations

With this increased emphasis on TBSs, candidates should direct a significant portion of their study time toward comprehending and acclimating to this specific type of question. The DRS has its own unique qualities that you can learn about in our CPA Exam DRS video series. 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.