Wouldn’t it be great if CPA exam sims were actually like the SIMS computer game? Ah, bliss. Unfortunately, FAR task-based simulations come with an especially high level of stress, very unlike the kind you feel when playing the SIMS. Luckily, we’re here to help you bust that stress and go into the simulations feeling confident.
FAR Sim Basics
The FAR exam consists of 90 multiple choice (MC) questions and 7 task-based simulations (TBS or sims). You have to finish the MC questions first, leaving the sims for the end. Keep in mind that only 6 of the sims are graded as one is pre-test. I would avoid trying to guess which one isn’t graded and just try your best on them all.
Since they make up 40% of your grade, make sure that you leave at least 90 minutes of your four-hour exam to devote fully to the sims. You don’t want to feel rushed going into them.
CPA exam sims are positively graded. This means getting a correct answer will boost your score while getting a wrong answer will keep your score the same. Fill out all of the answers you know for sure first, and then fill everything else out also. One of your guesses may be correct!
Quelling Your Fears
According to the AICPA, the sims are supposed to emulate what you would actually do as a CPA. In other words, they’re mini case studies.
I know what you’re thinking: I’m not even a CPA yet and they’re making me do all this CPA stuff? I should be getting paid! Really, it’s good practice, and if you feel confident on the MC questions, you’re going to be fine on the sims.
The knowledge you need for the MC questions is the same as the sims. The questions may seem long and daunting, but you’ll likely have to answer multiple parts. The examiners are just providing all of the information you need in one spot. And bonus: they give you authoritative literature! So if you aren’t sure about an answer (and you have time) you can double check that you did it correctly!
Types of Questions
Your FAR exam may have sims that cover a variety of topics, from depreciation to FIFO costing. You’ll likely have drop down menus that give you a range of answers that you have to choose from. You may also have fill-in-the-blank questions.
Think back to your accounting exams in college. If you took intermediate accounting, I highly doubt that your entire exam was multiple choice. You probably had to do journal entries, prepare statements, or cost inventory. This is very similar to what you’ll be doing on the exam. So you already have experience!
More likely than not, you’re going to have at least one question that is research based. In this case, the examiners will give you a problem, and you’ll have to find where the answer is in the Authoritative Literature. In these questions, coming up with the right keywords to search and knowing your way around the Literature is essential. These are super easy points if you know how to search correctly. You can access the Professional Literature (the actual one you’ll get on the exam) and practice searching on the AICPA website.
Now that you know what you’re up against, peruse the AICPA practice exams and tutorials. Since the AICPA makes the exam, these will give you the feel for the sims straight from the horse’s mouth! And check out these FAR exam tips to get you prepped for the exam.