4 Excellent Tips to Crush the CPA Exam Simulations

CPA Review Courses Updated: July 1, 2020 You’re our #1 priority.
100% of the time.

We believe everybody should be able to make online purchases with confidence. And while our website doesn’t feature every test prep company or review course in the universe, we’re proud that the advice we offer and the information we provide is accurate, truthful, objective - and entirely free.

So how do we actually make money? It’s simple, our partners compensate us. While this may influence which products we review and write about, and where they show up on the site, it absolutely does not influence our recommendations or guidance, which are formed by hundreds of hours of research and analysis. Check out our partners here.

What’s the bottom line? We’re on your team and are passionate about helping you achieve your career goals, even if it means we don’t make a dime.
4 Excellent Tips to Crush the CPA Exam Simulations

The Document Review Simulations (DRS), also referred to as SIMs, test your ability to complete a realistic task that simulates something a newly licensed CPA might do on the job.

The simulations are not multiple-choice questions and require you to come up with your own answers to the problems. This part of the exams is heavily weighted and can cripple your score if not approached correctly. Below are 4 tips to help you prepare for the CPA exam Simulations.

#1 – Give Yourself A Fighting Chance

Be sure you leave enough time for the simulations. A general rule of thumb is that since the SIMS are worth between 35% to 50% of your score, then you should budget your available time accordingly. Below is a good estimate for how much time you should plan on setting aside for the SIMS: Audit Simulations: 50%  x 4 hour test = 2 hours FAR Simulations:  50% x 4 hour test = 2 hours REG Simulations: 50% x 4 hour test = 2 hours BEC Simulations: 35% x 4 hour test = 1 hour 24 minutes

#2 Play To Your Strengths

Answer the SIMS in order from “most comfortable with the subject matter” to “least comfortable with the subject matter” so you maximize your points if you run out of time. This will also prevent you from getting stuck on one ridiculously hard SIM for 30 minutes (like I did!).

#3 Expect the Unexpected

You are most likely going to get a simulation that is completely out of left field and was never even touched on by your review course. Expect this! There is one “fake” simulation for each exam that doesn’t even count towards your score. Assume it’s the fake pretest question and move on.

#4 Keep Your Head In The Game

Never ever let yourself get discouraged when your taking the exam. This applies not only to the SIMS section but for the entire freakin CPA exam! You’ve worked your butt off, sacrificed much of your social life, and studied like an animal to get to this point right?  Be proud of yourself and walk out of that testing center like a champ. Keep a positive attitude throughout the exam and you will have a much higher chance of recalling all that info you crammed into your head.

Your Turn

Have you taken any of the Document Review Simulations yet? Got a few pointers of your own?  We wanna know! Please share in the comments section below and spread your knowledge to all those in need.
Becker CPA Review
  • Endorsed by the Big 4
  • Adapt 2U A.I. Technology
  • Gameified Learning Options


Surgent CPA Review
  • Pass 80% Faster. Exam ready in 58 hours!
  • Adaptive Learning Technology
  • Top New Product by Accounting Today
Gleim CPA Review
  • Most Detailed Content
  • Physical & Digital Material
  • 1,300+ TBS
  • tuxedocat4
    Posted at 19 November, 2016 19:03 PM Reply

    I am taking the CPA exam FAR section in December. I have been studying but I feel like I am not ready. There is so much info to try and remember. I have Wiley Review course and I am going through as many sections as possible. Is there an area I need to concentrate on? Do you have any advice? I am doing problems from as many sections as I can and the simulations. I try and try but I get most wrong. I had all A's in school and I feel like I am going to fail this test.

    • Tiffany
      Posted at 4 January, 2013 21:37 PM Reply

      Hi Bryce,I was wondering if you had information on how the SIMs are tested/graded. I have been working on the Audit section, where some SIMs asks for calculations. For my responses, I never know if it is appropriate to type in the formula within the cell or if I should manually calculate it and manually provide the answer. For example, if the test is asking for the number to be rounded to the second decimal place, and I put in the formula that spits out an answer of 0.14. If it was in percentage terms, my answer would be 14%. However, I am wondering if the answer should be 13.99% rather than 0.14. If I enter in 13.99%, the % value is unacceptable in the program. But leaving it as 13.99 is very different from .1399.Can you help me out with this? Thanks!

      • Bryce
        Posted at 7 January, 2013 19:23 PM Reply

        Hi Tiffany,I wouldn't worry about this. I remember on the actual CPA exam the instructions were very clear and it only allowed for one option to be entered, either the decimal format or the percentage format.Cheers,Bryce

      • Mike J
        Posted at 6 December, 2012 23:03 PM Reply

        I'm planning to take FAR in Feb 2013. These test day tips are great. Do you have a study strategy for the SIMS? Thanks

        • Bryce
          Posted at 10 December, 2012 17:38 PM Reply

          Unfortunately, I haven't found a solid review course yet that properly covers the SIMS or at least prepares you as well as they should. My best advice would be to understand the main concepts and work a lot of multiple choice questions. I'll keep you posted on any new info as I'll be looking into some new courses soon.

        • Richard
          Posted at 31 October, 2012 05:42 AM Reply

          Great blog! I'll be sure to tell all my friends about it, I really like your style of writingI totally agree with "expect the unexpected". Wish I would have read this before my last exam which I think I totally tanked on the SIMS..

          • Bryce
            Posted at 31 October, 2012 05:55 AM Reply

            Thanks Richard, Let me know if there's anything I can do to help you or your friends!Cheers!Bryce

          • Erin
            Posted at 23 October, 2012 20:49 PM Reply

            During the SIM portion you also have access to the Authoritative Literature. Complete the SIMS to the best of your ability and use the scratch paper to jot down 2-3 items total to look up in the literature. Do not plan to rely on using the literature to complete SIMs, but if you have extra time, it's a good way to double check some of your uncertainties. In some cases, the literature will not even cover certain SIM topics, so it is important to be prepared!

            • Bryce
              Posted at 24 October, 2012 18:58 PM Reply

              I agree, the SIMS written portion on the BEC exam should not be over looked. Great addition to the list, thanks Erin!

            Leave a Reply

            Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *