The AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) has designed Task-Based Simulations (TBS) to test the processing abilities of candidates by combining many functions, applications, and areas of study. Don’t assume that the task-based simulations are a difficult part of the CPA exam

Let’s know more about CPA task-based simulations.

What are Task-Based Simulations in the CPA exam?

Simulations are case-based problems that are required to make journal entries, research topics, match definitions, and also cite authoritative literature. The problems are given so that you apply the knowledge for real-life scenario simulations instead of simply answering MCQs.

AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) has shifted the exam focus more on simulations instead of multiple-choice questions in 2017. It was because the task-based simulation tests the thought process and higher knowledge of the candidates more than MCQs. 

Types of CPA Task-Based Simulations (TBS):

There are four types of TBS:

  • Matching
  • Research
  • Fill-in-the-Blank
  • Journal Entries

Matching Simulation: It’s just like a set of matching topics in a grade school. You may have 5 to 10 transactions or terms which are needed to be matched with relative numbers or definitions. It’s isn’t difficult. Besides, there are more answers given than the questions, that’s why you have to select something from the list.

Research Simulation: It gives you a simulation with the required lookup, which is authoritative literature that applies to the scenario as well. Out of all the different types of SIMS, the research simulation is the easiest one. 

One must search the function and read the scenario on the codification in order to get the code section on that particular topic. It is very easy and it just needs practice with a search tool. Hence, you can quickly research exam day topics and can easily enter the code in the text field. 

Fill-in-the-Blank: It is probably the most challenging task-based simulation; you don’t have the answer to choose. For instance, you might be given a story problem where you need to compute the answer & fill it in the blank. You have to guess the answer if you are unable to calculate it.

Journal Entries: The journal entries come in two formats: fill-in-the-blank and matching. The blank journal entry is used to fill in the amounts of every transaction and fill in the accounts. Over the matching journal entries, the fill-in-the-blank journal entries are a bit difficult. 


There are many layouts and variations for every simulation, but they can be fit into the above four simulations. Hope this article helps you to know the task-based simulations in the US CPA exam. Any Questions? Comment below.

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