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ch04 - CHAPTER 4 The Simulation Component IT'S NEW IT'S...

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CHAPTER 4 The Simulation Component IT’S NEW. IT’S FEARED. IT’S ONLY 20%! The most talked about change is the addition of “simulations.” What is a simulation and how do they work? A simulation can be defined as an assessment of knowledge and skills in context approximating that found on the job through the use of realistic scenarios and tasks, and access to normally available and familiar resources.” 1 In other words, they are case studies that require CPA candidates to utilize many of the tools and skills that today’s entry-level accountants use in the real world workplace. Simulations are used in three out of the four exam sections. In February 2003, the AICPA announced the Business Environment & Concepts section will not contain simulations. The reasoning sited by Dr. Craig Mills, AICPA executive director- examinations, was the fact that the Business Environment & Concepts area contains at least 50% new exam content. More time is needed to gather evidence about candidate preparedness in this area. The examiners plan to use the results of the multiple-choice questions to help them define the types and the complexity of possible simulations. The examinations team can then focus on three remaining areas first and later add simulations to the Business Concepts section. 2 As discussed in Chapter 3, the multiple-choice portion of the exam is 80%, and the simulation component represents 20%. Among academicians, students, and CPA candidates, the 20% component is creating the most stir. Why are people so concerned about the smallest section of the new computer based exam? The reason is two-fold: 1 www.cpa-exam.org/cpa/computer_faqs_2.html “What are simulations.” 2 January/February 2003 The CPA EXAM ALERT, page 2, Top column, issued in February 2003 by the AICPA. 29
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30 Chapter 4 The Simulation Component 1.Simulations represent a significant change from any testing format that has been used in the almost 90 year history of the CPA exam, and 2. The AICPA has been slow in releasing practice tutorials, leaving students, candidates, and CPA Review course providers scratching their heads saying: “How is this really going to work?” Without live practice simulations, we can’t see how the computer interface works. It’s unclear as to how candidates are expected to navigate the questions. Refer to the www.cpa-exam.org website for the few examples that have been released to date. While this gives us an idea of how a simulation looks and what they might contain, there remain many unanswered questions. We want to “play” with live simulations. We hope to see examples soon. Gregory Johnson, AICPA Director of the CPA Examination, reports that in January 2003, the first simulations were pretested by at least one group of university accounting majors. This is a beginning. It is expected that by the end of April 2003, the AICPA will post to a web site some interactive, practice simulation examples.
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