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Navigating Task-Based Simulations on the New CPA Exam

Task-based Simulations

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In the months leading up to the launch of the new version of the CPA Exam, the AICPA disclosed many details about how the format and functionality of the exam would change. One final bit of insight the AICPA offered before the new version launched addressed the navigation of the increased number of Task-Based Simulation (TBS) testlets. Specifically, candidates can no longer see all of the TBSs at once. Now that the new version of the exam has arrived, candidates making the transition from old to new may want to update their exam day strategies based on this change.

TBS Navigation on the Old CPA Exam

In the previous version of the CPA Exam, candidates could view all of the TBSs at the same time because all of the TBSs were in the same testlet. You could click forward or backward within the testlet to assess each TBS and decide the order in which you wanted to address them.

TBS Navigation on the New CPA Exam

Almost a year ago, we learned that the number of testlets in each section of the new CPA Exam would increase from three to five. The additional testlets contain more TBSs, giving AUD, FAR, and REG a total of eight TBSs and BEC a total of four TBSs.

As the new version of the exam serves candidates more TBSs, these TBSs are divided between three testlets. You can still move between TBSs within a given testlet; however, you cannot view other testlets or their TBSs unless you exit the current testlet. To exit a testlet, you must click the button that reads “Submit Testlet”, and you should only do so when you have completed each TBS and are satisfied with your responses. Once you submit a testlet, you will not be able to view it again.


If you’re familiar with the old CPA Exam, you should adjust your expectation of how many TBSs you will have access to at once. You should also devise a new time management strategy for completing the TBSs, as you won’t be able to assess all of the TBSs before beginning or review all of the TBSs at the end if you have time remaining. Make sure you know how many TBSs you will encounter on each testlet and budget your time accordingly.

CPA Exam Navigation

If you sat for a section of the old CPA Exam and need to sit for a section of the new exam, you can amend your testing-taking habits before you sit. How? By preparing with exam-emulating CPA review. Practicing under extremely realistic exam conditions enables you to acclimate to the exam early. When you’re completely comfortable with the CPA Exam, you can minimize exam day surprises and maximize time for exam questions.

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