How to Use the Investopedia Simulator

Virtually trade both stocks and options

The Investopedia Simulator is designed to help anyone learn the mechanics of buying and selling securities in a risk-free environment. This learning tool simulates the activities investors experience when placing orders through a broker. The Simulator provides real-time tracking for the changes in simulated investment value by showing users the performance of their investments.  

You can get started by creating an account, researching stocks or options, and executing trades. The Simulator will track the value of your portfolio as you add or close positions. You can also compare your results to the performance of other practicing investors through Simulator games that you can join or start yourself.

Key Takeaways

  • The Investopedia Simulator is a virtual trading tool designed to help investors improve their skills at trading and investing.
  • It has powerful tools for conducting research and placing simulated trade orders.
  • It tracks the value of investing positions in real time.
  • Simulator users can participate in games in which they compare their own investment performance to those of others.

Getting Started 

To access the Simulator, you will need to create an account. The account is free and only requires that you specify your email, username, and password. It is useful to know that the email you provide won’t be flooded with spam because the Simulator is designed just for learning.  

When you create your account, you will be automatically logged in. A new account has a default virtual balance of $100,000. This virtual money has no connection to real cash, but it can buy virtual shares that track the same as real ones.   

It is easy to discover how the Simulator works just by exploring the interface and trying out its functions. The Simulator is divided into four functional areas:  portfolio, trade, research, and games. The portfolio tab allows you to track simulated value changes for all positions you initiate. The trade tab lets you see price quotes and place orders like the functionality of an actual broker. The research tab helps you study price charts and review company information behind the stocks available for simulated trading. Lastly, the games tab allows you to join up with simulated investing competitions or even start one of your own.  

Each of these functional areas can be explored quickly. It’s also comforting to know that any information you might need for defining unfamiliar terms is only a click away on the Investopedia site.  

Researching What to Trade 

Investors like to know the nature of their investment choices. Some prefer to conduct thorough due diligence by reviewing the business statements of a company before deciding to buy stock. This kind of fundamental analysis helps investors have the confidence to put money into a stock and leave it there for months or years. Other investors are comfortable simply reviewing price charts and conducting technical analyses of stocks.  

Both types of analysis can be conducted quickly by looking in the research section. Simply clicking on one of the ticker symbols displayed on the research pages will take you to a summary page complete with an interactive chart, company profile, and fundamental data. 

The research page also has a powerful stock screener built into it. This allows you to specify one or more attributes of companies you’d like to research. The functionality of the screener is very deep, but you don’t have to know everything about it to generate a list of possible stocks to review. 

Executing a Virtual Trade 

Selecting the trade tab gives you access to the place where you can execute trading orders. Here, you will first want to specify whether you are making a stock or option trade. Next, you specify the ticker symbol of the stock you want to trade or the underlying stock of the option contracts you want to trade. Either way, a price quote and chart will appear so that you can review the price at which the stock is currently trading.  

When you have reviewed the price information, you can specify the action you want to take with your order: buy, sell, short, or buy to cover. This is the same functionality that exists on retail broker accounts with margin trading. However, only the most common three order types used in retail broker accounts are available: market, limit, or stop orders.  

To execute an order, you might specify an action (buy), an order type (market), and a quantity of shares. There is a show max link available to allow you to see the maximum number of shares you can buy based on the available virtual cash in your Simulator account. If you buy the maximum shares possible, you will have put all your virtual cash into that company. If you want a portfolio with more than one stock position, you should avoid buying the maximum number of shares. 

It is important to remember that the Simulator runs on data that is delayed by 15 minutes. That means it will take 15 minutes for any order you place to show up in your portfolio list. 

Tracking Changes in Value 

The portfolio tab lists the positions you are holding and the current value of those positions based on market data. It gives you a quick snapshot of the account’s total balance as well as the total for each individual position. Quick stats show you how much gain or loss your account has made today, the annualized return you are making, and the remaining cash and buying power in the account.  

You can also review a performance history over multiple time frames and review your individual trade history. The historical trade data can be sorted into stocks, options, and short-selling positions. There is also a small panel on this page that displays your rank among all other active Simulator users.  

Challenge Other Investors 

Since its inception, the Investopedia Simulator has been a hosting site for thousands of investing contests among friends, colleagues, and classmates. Today, the Simulator’s functions make these games easier than ever to get started and conduct. Both stock and option trades can be included in the challenge for a wider range of experiences.  

The Simulator uses the Investopedia Trading Game as the default starting contest. But you can join any one of the thousands of public games that run without an end date. If you want a more specific contest with a defined end date, you can easily start one of your own by selecting the Create Game option. Each game has optional features that increase the Simulator experience's realism. You can specify things such as the starting amount, whether options or other instruments can be traded in addition to stocks, and the amount charged for commissions.  

The Simulator has been available in some form for nearly 20 years but has undergone refinement along the way. No matter what your level of investing experience, you can learn to be a better investor by using this tool to increase your skills. 

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