Accounting’s Got ‘Game’: Bank On It Designed to Engage High Schoolers
With high school teachers having to vie against all things digital to capture their students’ attention, it’s more important than ever for them to use fun and interactive lessons to bring accounting principles to life.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)  has made teachers’ jobs a little easier by creating a new teaching tool that speaks directly to the adolescent heart: an online, interactive accounting game called Bank On It .
Launched this month, Bank On It features more than 1,000 questions inspired by content in fourteen different accounting textbooks. The game challenges students on accounting fundamentals and real-world workplace scenarios in the context of an online board game.
“Engaging students is one of the greatest challenges facing teachers. The AICPA developed Bank On It to provide high school teachers with a captivating, interactive tool they can use to supplement their curriculum,” Joanne Fiore, AICPA vice president – professional media, pathways, and inclusion, said in a written statement. “Bank On It combines the tools of gamification and online learning in a way that will resonate with students and, ultimately, help them learn more about accounting.”
Perhaps the greatest predictor of Bank On It’s future success is the fact that it was designed by the very audience that’s intended to use it: high school students.
The general concept for the game was created by students from Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama , who won the AICPA’s 2012 Project Innovation Competition .
Students can play the online game at one of two levels – and compete against each other, against other online gamers, or against the computer. Players also focus on one of three sectors: business and industry, public accounting, or nonprofit accounting. They are asked to answer accounting questions on topics such as:
- How credits and debits are assigned
- Difference between gross and net income
- How to manage payroll or fixed assets with depreciation
The game is won by reaching the winning bank balance set prior to starting. Players earn money by answering questions correctly and landing on other strategic spaces as they move around the board.
The questions in Bank On It have been reviewed by CPAs, and the game provides incorrect-answer explanations and rationale to increase students’ understanding of the principles of accounting. In addition, the game weaves in real-life professional scenarios and reinforces principles already being taught in the classroom.
A Teacher’s Praise for the Game
Kelly Gandy, a teacher at Demopolis High School in Demopolis, Alabama, is already using the game in her classroom. She said the game has met all the expectations it was designed to achieve:
- It is fun and challenging.
- It helps her teach basic accounting principles.
- It serves as a springboard for more challenging topics.
- It exposes students to real-world scenarios, helping them envision the different career paths CPAs can follow.
Gandy said Bank On It is quickly becoming an important tool she is using to supplement her accounting curriculum. The game, Gandy noted, reinforces concepts she has already taught, introduces students to new and perhaps unanticipated topics, and serves as a steppingstone for further discussion on accounting concepts and careers.
“I enjoy seeing how enthused my students are to play Bank On It. You can tell there’s an excitement in the room when we play it,” Gandy said. “My students aren’t just clicking on answers and memorizing responses. They are learning new terms and concepts and interacting with the material. They are engaging with each other and asking me questions. We use the game, especially the answers they are unfamiliar with, as an opportunity to discuss new ideas.”
Gandy added that Bank On It has also helped her prepare students for their upcoming DECA  competition.
“It gives us the opportunity to study questions we may not have anticipated; things we may not have covered,” Gandy said. “I’m thinking it would be pretty cool if one of those questions came up at the competition, and my students were able to answer it because they studied it in the game.”
As a former business professional who recently began her teaching career, Gandy can vouch that the game teaches real-world accounting skills to prepare students for prospective careers in public accounting as CPAs.
Gandy said this is the first time she’s been able to use an online, educational game – standard fare in most courses – specifically designed for accounting students.
While Gandy emphasized that online tools like Bank On It must be “balanced” with traditional teaching methods, she believes the game can be an invaluable tool for teachers hoping to make complex and abstract principles of accounting come alive for their students.
“The bottom line is you are never going to go wrong with this generation if you offer them something with a technology base. They are very tech-driven, so they are going to react better and perform better when technology is involved,” Gandy said. “But the fact that this game is easy to use and incorporate into the classroom, and the fact that it allows teachers to supplement their curriculum, makes it a wonderful teaching tool.”
Bank On It also provides a customizable experience for teachers. Educators who are registered on Start Here, Go Places  are given a unique classroom code they can distribute to their students to track their progress, according to the AICPA. Students have the option of taking part in up to ten games at once, and the game is mobile-friendly so students can play from their smartphones.
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