CPA

Prepare for task-based simulations with Becker SkillMaster videos

5 min read
Student with a laptop in a coffee shop

There are all kinds of strategies and memory hacks you can use to help prepare for the CPA Exam, but there’s nothing like seeing firsthand what you can expect. Our CPA SkillMaster video tutorials guide you through the most complex portions of the exam.

Imagine someone sitting in front of you with a task-based simulation question and visually working it out for you step-by-step, explaining everything in detail along the way.

That’s exactly what Becker’s SkillMaster videos do. And there’s one made especially for how to tackle the task-based simulation portion of the CPA Exam. You can watch Becker instructor Mike Brown explain the process in this video.

A lot of students aren’t familiar with the task-based simulations included in the exam (admittedly, it’s one of the toughest portions of the exam). While the multiple-choice portions of the exam are important, it’s the simulations that test your ability to analyze and evaluate key accounting concepts. Also, simulations represent 50% of your score on each of the four exams and require more than half of the time you’ll spend on the exam. Time management is especially important after the break, when you’ll spend the final two hours exclusively on simulations.

In our tutorials, a Becker expert instructor leads you through the four types of task-based simulations you’ll encounter—traditional, document review, research and written communication. Along the way, they offer strategies and techniques that can help you work through the simulations as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Traditional

Traditional simulations are broad in scope and can include the following:

  • Preparing a financial statement
  • Preparing adjusting journal entries
  • Modifying audit reports
  • Applying the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct to scenarios
  • Calculating the tax basis of assets

These simulations may include multiple exhibits and ask you to complete questions with either pop-up menu options or numerical entry. The key difference between simulations and multiple choice questions is the simulations are testing you on higher order skills of application, analysis, and evaluation.

Document Review

This simulation type involves reviewing exhibits for the purpose of editing an official business document, such as a memo to the executive committee. You’re presented with underlined passages that may require editing. In the video, you’ll see the drop-down menu options for editing these passages, including deleting, modifying, or leaving it alone. The video takes you through the process of how you can organize the exhibits in the exam interface to help you tackle this simulation.

Research

The research questions focus on authoritative literature for the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Auditing, and Regulation sections of the exam. The tutorial shows where the exam’s “authoritative literature tool” is located on the screen. There, you can search for topics related to the research question.

  • In the FAR section, the goal is to find the exact paragraph in the FASB Accounting Standards Codification that addresses the question at hand. It’s also important to note that you must get the entire reference correct. That’s why the tutorial can be an invaluable tool to help you get comfortable with the exam’s search engine.
  • The Regulation section takes a similar approach, but it involves finding the correct answers in the Internal Revenue Code.
  • The Auditing section doesn’t have a single source of authoritative literature. Your job in here is to figure out which book from the library you need to refer to for the question at hand. In the video, you’ll see where you can choose from a drop-down menu of standards (such as an auditing, ethical or attestation standards) that may apply to the question at hand.

Written Communication

This portion, which appears only in the Business Environments and Concepts (BEC) section, requires you to prepare a formal business communication, such as a memo or a letter. The tutorial demonstrates how the writing required here may be different from the type of writing you’re accustomed to. The key is to earn all the points available. Fortunately, as you’ll see in the video, the exam explains how this section is evaluated. Depending on the written communication, you may be graded for technical content in addition to general writing skills.

Task-based simulations are a crucial part of the CPA exam. Coming in armed with strategies to tackle these questions can help you become more comfortable with the requirements, which can save valuable time during the exam.