Beginners Guide To Virtual Trading & Other Stock Market Simulators

Tools for aspiring investors.

Updated: May 18, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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Have you ever thought about entering the world of stock trading? Often times, people are curious to see how the stock market works, but hesitate due to the intensity, and rightly so.

The stock market is a highly complex and ever-changing system that only the most knowledgeable, skilful, and experienced traders can navigate successfully.

While many novices lose all their money by entering the space without any form of trading experience, there is a way to get involved as a beginner without the fear of losing your hard-earned cash.

This is where the concept of virtual trading and a stock trading simulator enters the picture! Throughout this beginner’s guide, we’ll be exploring this trading phenomenon and how it can prime you with the experience and confidence needed to invest real money in the stock market.

So, without further ado, let’s break down all there is to know about these exciting tools for aspiring investors.

What Is Virtual Trading?

Virtual trading, sometimes referred to as stock simulator paper trading, is essentially just the process of simulating real-world trading scenarios by using a digital account instead. To put it bluntly, it’s basically like trading with Monopoly money — there’s no actual risk or value to the currency you’re using.

This means you can start your trading journey without actually risking any of your money.

These trading platforms were designed in an attempt to simulate all of the same traits as the stock market, reflecting all the volatility and unpredictability that comes with real world market conditions. However, these accounts come pre-funded with virtual currency, allowing you to navigate a trading platform and buy/sell all the same securities you could anywhere else.

How Does A Stock Market Simulator Work?

Utilising the data of simulated markets, virtual trading platforms are able to create a digital environment that closely mirrors how the real-world market is performing. Similarly to the real deal, any potential investors can access the platform and run a simulation on what buying and selling stocks looks like in real-time.

As these platforms are purely educational, many virtual trading providers provide their users with an array of tools to help them practise training and become more savvy with the stock market. These tools include things like trading charts, news feeds to see the latest sentiments globally, research reports from top investors, and a range of analytical tools.

By making the most out of all these resources, novices can quickly find themselves gaining insights into the market, helping them analyse trends better so they can start developing different strategies for trading.

Benefits Of Virtual Trading For Beginners

While anyone could benefit from the safe learning environment virtual trading platforms facilitate, it goes without saying that beginners are the real winners here. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of virtual trading for all the novices out there:

Learn The Basics Of Trading

Remember, it’s one thing at a time — you have to learn to walk before you run in life, and the stock market game is no different. These platforms are invaluable for giving beginners an opportunity to learn all the basics, including things like how to buy and sell securities, how to read charts, and how to use different trading tools to your advantage.

Practice Trading Strategies

Consider for a moment how many successful traders there may be if novices were able to learn from mistakes rather than being taunted out of the space by their depleted account balance.

When learning the ropes, there’s no better way of getting started than digesting a few of the most popular trading strategies. In addition the platform should make it clear how to practise these strategies, signposting every step along the way with what is currently happening.

Naturally, this can be invaluable for traders looking to test strategies without losing any money during the ‘training wheel’ phase.

Build Confidence

If nothing else, virtual trading lets you practise trading stocks so you can become more acquainted with the market, which can be a massive boost in confidence when it comes to staking actual money.

Benefits Of Virtual Trading For Experienced Investors

Despite these platforms being aimed towards those who are slightly less adept at trading stocks, that doesn’t mean experienced investors with skin in the game already can’t utilise them. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the key benefits of virtual trading platforms that established traders can utilise:

Test New Strategies

Similar to novice investors, these platforms provide an opportunity for you to perform a few test runs on slightly less orthodox trading strategies. 

For example, when you don’t have the risk of your portfolio’s balance taking a hit, you might experiment with fractals or other kinds of indicators.

Practice In A New Market

While you may be a pro in trading cryptocurrency, for instance, there’s no guarantee that these skills will translate into a precious metal market. Each financial market performs differently, regardless whether they’re commodities, stocks, cryptocurrency, or anything else.

These platforms allow you dip your toes in a new market without having your confidence or, most importantly, portfolio shaken up.

Refine Existing Strategies

Has that winning trading strategy you’ve used your whole investment journey started to dry up? Sometimes, all that’s needed to put you back on track is applying a few simple tweaks — something you can experiment with without risk on the best stock market simulators.

How To Start Virtual Trading

So, now that we’ve provided a bit of background information about stock market simulators, it’s time to get started on making your first account.

Here are some steps to get you started:

Choose A Virtual Trading Platform

When it comes to selecting the right platform, you can’t really go wrong as they more or less all offer the same things — an opportunity to hone your skills in the stock market. Having said this, each platform does come with its own unique features and trading tools, so have a look around to see which one suits your needs and pretences best.

For specific platform recommendations, eToro and Trading 212 are both great examples of platforms that offer a virtual stock market to play around with and improve your trading skills.

Sign Up For An Account

Now that you’ve picked your platform of choice, simply sign up to create an account. Typically, you’ll have to provide some personal information too, so make sure you have any basic details on hand.

Choose Your Account Type

While all of them are slightly different, the majority of trading platforms offer two main types of accounts — a cash account and a margin account.

The former option lets you trade stocks with virtual cash, while a margin account allows you to trade with borrowed money. So, if you’re a beginner, it’s probably best to stick to cash accounts until you’ve got some experience under your belt.

Fund Your Account

After your account has been approved, you’ll receive the virtual money into your trading portfolio. While it doesn’t really matter as there’s no value, the total amount that gets sent to your account will depend on the specific broker.

Begin Trading

After you’ve had a balance added to your account, it’s time to start virtually trading! The best stock market simulator should come with multiple different trading pairs for a range of different asset classes, so choose your security and start placing your orders!

Selecting Stocks To Trade

If it’s stocks that you’re mainly interested in, it’s worth identifying a few popular shares to focus on before you begin branching out into the low market cap options. 

Here’s a few basic tips to get you started down the right path:

Focus On Popular Stocks

Start with stocks that you're familiar with first, such as Apple, Amazon, or Google. These companies are well-known, and their stock prices are usually stable.

Research

Before trading, research all the companies you're interested in, including anything behind the scenes that may impact stock price. Read news articles, financial reports, and analyst recommendations.

Look For Trends

Look for companies that are growing and have a good track record of financial performance.

Placing Orders

Once you've selected the stocks you want to trade, it's time to place your orders. Here's how:

Choose The Type Of Order

The majority of trading platforms available on the internet provide their investors with multiple types of order variations. This includes things like market orders, limit orders, stop orders, etc. 

Each option has their own pros and cons, so make sure you’re clued in on each of them.

Enter The Order Details & Submit

Type in all the details of your order, such as the stock symbol, quantity, and order type. After you’ve finished entering all the details, review the order and submit it!

Related Guides:

FAQs

How Can I Maximise My Learning Experience?

Are There Any Risks Associated With Virtual Trading?

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