The CPA exam contains simulations in all 4 sections. In the AUD, FAR, and REG sections, these simulations are worth 50% of your overall score, and 35% in the BEC section. As these simulations are worth a such a large portion of your exam score, it is crucial to adequately prepare for anything you may encounter on exam day. Keep reading for 3 helpful tips from Surgent CPA Review co-founder Liz Kolar on how to ace the CPA exam simulations!


1. Practice simulations … then practice some more


The CPA exam contains eight simulations in the AUD, FAR, and REG sections, and four in the BEC section. Even though there are significantly more multiple choice questions on the exam, it is important to remember that the simulations are worth half of your overall exam score. Many students make the mistake of focusing their exam prep on the multiple choice questions rather than the simulations. It is critical to practice ALL simulation formats that you may see on the test: task-based simulations, document review simulations, research simulations, and in the BEC section, written communications questions.

Pro tip: Learn from the experts! Surgent’s webinar archive includes “How to Solve a Document Review Simulation in Auditing,” “How to Solve a BEC Task-Based Simulation,” “How to Solve a Research Simulation Question,” and more! Access Surgent’s most popular webinars.


2. Budget your time properly


To effectively manage your time on the CPA exam, determine exactly how many minutes you will spend on each simulation before attempting to solve them. Liz recommends spending 7-10 minutes on research simulations, 10-15 minutes on written communication questions, and up to 30 minutes on task-based simulations. After deciding how much time you are going to spend on the question, do not work any longer than the allotted time. Spending too much time on one simulation can prevent you from completing the exam.


3. Look out for enhanced task-based simulations


There is one simulation Liz refers to as the “Enhanced Task-Based Simulation.” The AICPA calls it a “Task-Based Simulation,” but this TBS differs because it can take around 30-40 minutes to solve. This lengthy simulation can be found in any of the three testlets, so be prepared and make sure you allow yourself enough time to solve it!



To see all of Liz Kolar’s expert tips on CPA exam simulations, watch the full video here:

YouTube video


For more CPA Exam tips, including How to Pass the CPA Exam and How to Solve a Document Review Simulation, check out our free archive of webinars here


Liz Kolar, CPA, CGMA, has been teaching CPA Review for more than 25 years in the United States, has personally taught more than 2,500 live sessions, and has helped thousands of candidates pass the CPA Exam. She founded Pinnacle CPA Review and co-founded Surgent Kolar CPA Review.