To become a successful trader, you need to be able to analyse the market and follow a reliable trading strategy. But where to start? And how can you test your strategies before you put real money at risk? This is the role of trading simulators.
Whether you’re trading Forex, the stock market, commodities or cryptocurrencies, practice is the key to success. And the best way to start practicing trading the markets is with a Forex or stock market simulator. In fact, you can sign up now to try our free trading simulator today! Choose the best simulator software, how to use the daytrading simulator, how to use the Forex strategy tester, and much more!
We all know that practice makes perfect, and have all heard about spending 10,000 hours to master a skill. Trading is no different, and the number of hours a trader puts in is what distinguishes Forex beginners from trading professionals. This makes practice even more important than theoretical knowledge. The good news is that an online stock market simulator can help you do that.
You don’t want to lose money while getting the practice you need, and using simulation software on a demo account allows you to learn the ropes and avoid putting your hard-earned money at risk.
In this article we will look at what a trading simulator is, the benefits of using a Forex trade simulator and online stock market simulation, a comparison of the different types of simulators, how to choose the best simulator software and more.
What is a Forex trading simulator?
A Forex or stock market simulator is a piece of software that “simulates” real market conditions. This allows traders to trade and practice their strategies with virtual money before testing their skills on the live market.
Some simulators use a simple algorithm to mimic broader market activity, while others are trading platforms that reflect live market data, which offer a far more realistic market experience.
While both can be useful, the latter provides much greater value.
The key features of Forex simulators are:
- Live simulation and market updates
- Risk-free demo account trading
- Inclusion of all trading features and functions
- The ability to test any Forex strategy
Most stock market simulators offer a virtual balance of anywhere from 5,000 euros to 100,000 euros. From there, traders can trade on a range of financial markets, including stocks, bonds, Forex, commodities, indices and cryptocurrencies.
Often, simulators are named after the instrument they allow you to trade, such as stock market simulators (stocks), Forex simulators (Forex), binary trading simulators (binary options), and so on.
Other companies might name their simulators after the device being used:
- PC Trading Simulator
- IPhone Trading Simulator
- Trading simulation for iPad
- Trading simulation for MAC
- Trading Simulation for Android
Because of this, rather than focusing on the name, it’s better to focus on the functionality of any trading simulator.
The functionality of any trading simulator should be the same as any live trading account, including how to open, modify and close trades. This includes the fees that would be charged on a live account, like commissions, spreads, swaps, and so on. Stock market fees can significantly affect the return on investment, so it is important to have them included in any free trade simulation account.
To start trading on one of the world’s most popular free Forex simulators, click the banner below to open a demo account with Admiral Markets!
Trading simulators vs. simulation platforms
With so many labels floating around, it can be difficult to know what you’re signing up for. In particular, it’s easy to confuse demo accounts, which are simulators within a trading platform, with pure simulation platforms.
Here’s a quick overview of the differences:
- Demo accounts are essential when you want to start operating in real markets, but first you want to practice your new knowledge or strategies. If your strategy is a success in your demo account, it does not guarantee that it will be in a live account, since market conditions are always changing.
- Simulation platforms simulate the experience of other traders. The goal is for the user to learn from traders as they overcomes the different levels and challenges that each level entails.
In this article, we will focus predominantly on demo accounts.
Trading simulators: The advantages and disadvantages
To find the best trading simulator on the market, it’s important to know the benefits and disadvantages of using one. So what are the pros and cons of using a Forex or stock market simulator?
Just some of the advantages include:
- You can learn how to use the trading platform, and avoid common mistakes like placing orders by accident
- You can test trading strategies without putting real money at risk – if a strategy fails in a demo trading account, you haven’t lost anything. If it works, you have a strategy you can use for live trading.
- A real-time stock market simulator allows you to better understand the financial markets and the instruments in which you want to invest.
- A stock market or Forex simulator also allows you to test automated trading software, before trusting your hard-earned money to an automated system.
The main disadvantage of using a free trading simulator is that it will never be a substitute for real trading experience. When trading with real money, there are a range of factors that will influence your investment decisions:
This leads traders (especially new traders) to make different decisions to what they would make if they were trading the live markets. For example, we have found that in free trading contests, traders take disproportionate risks to obtain the best performance and win the prize.
Stock market simulators or demo accounts should not be used for this purpose, but to test investment strategies and new instruments.
How to choose the best Forex simulator
If you’re ready to try a trading simulator to start practicing trading Forex or the stock market, there are a number of things to consider when choosing the best simulator software for you.
1. Does the simulator mirror the real market environment?
The ideal platform to learn how to trade Forex and stocks online must provide you with market data so you can see market fluctuations.
With real-time data, you can see how long trading opportunities remain available – if you are an intra-day trader, you can see the difference that leaving a position open for an extra day or two will make. If you’re a day trader or scalper, you can see the difference a few hours or even minutes could make.
In a Forex or stock market simulator, you can also see how a certain trade will have performed if you made it in a real account, as the price movements in the simulator software are exactly the same as those in the market – the only difference is that you are trading with virtual money.
Simply, trading with live market data is the only way for you to progress and learn to trade. Otherwise, your trading decisions won’t be based on how the live market behaves, and you could put in a lot of practice without improving your Forex trading skills.
Remember that the purpose of this software is to prepare you to earn real money, so the best trading simulators are ones that have real-time data feeds.
2. Does the simulator have a flexible deposit amount?
Many free trading simulators offer virtual deposits of EUR 5,000 to EUR 100,000. While this might sound like a great opportunity to get a lot of trading practice, the truth is that unless you are planning to deposit those amounts in a live account, you won’t be simulating real trading conditions.
Think about it – if you have EUR 100,000 on a demo account, you can make a lot of losing trades, and still have plenty of virtual money left on your account to continue practicing. However, if you then open a live account with a deposit of EUR 1,000, you will need to manage that money much differently, because you have less to lose. Unfortunately, because you were practicing with a much higher account balance, you wouldn’t have learnt risk management, money management and trading strategies that are appropriate for the smaller balance you have in your live account.
This is why it is vital to start simulated trading with an amount that is close to your expected deposit amount once you decide to start trading in a live account. For example, if you plan to trade with EUR 10,000 euros, you have to start trading with a virtual capital of EUR 10,000 too.
3. Which tools and features come with the simulator software?
There is a range of stock and Forex trading simulators available, and many of them offer very different features and functionality. If you focus on the simplest or most basic platform, you might need to upgrade later due to missing features.
In other words, it’s better to choose the more advanced and complex platform, to have a good foundation for your future trading. Forget the binary trader simulators that promise you quick wins.
This is why starting out with an advanced platform, like MetaTrader Supreme Edition might save you time in the long run. However, an advanced free trading platform is only really necessary if you plan to become an intraday forex trader. If you are a long-term trader and do not require detailed analysis every day, you may need to choose a platform that is the most accessible for you.
Nevertheless, your simple platform should always provide you with real-time currency rates, and other additional features necessary for you to be successful in long-term trading.
One specific feature to look for when comparing stock market simulators is the option to manually test your trading strategies based on historical data – this is known as backtesting.
The benefit of this approach is that you can find certain market events to test certain trading strategies, rather than waiting for a similar event to occur in real time and losing valuable practice time. So make sure to go out and find popular strategies and try them out. You never know how effective these strategies will be until you try them.
4. Is the simulator provided by a reputable Forex broker?
Most stock market simulators and trading simulation software is offered by online brokers. For this reason, it’s important to make sure the broker you are choosing is trustworthy, as this will likely be your platform choice once you have gained enough experience on a demo account.
Online brokers are diverse and offer different platforms, different available instruments, different trading costs and different support.
Some of the things to consider when choosing a broker include:
- Are they regulated?
- Do they segregate client funds?
- What range of instruments do they offer? Just Forex? Just stocks? Or a mix?
- What trading platform and tools do they offer?
- What is the cost of trading?
- Do they have local customer service? How can you contact them?
Learn more about choosing a good Forex and CFD broker here.
So what is the best trading simulator?
Now that you know what a Forex trade simulator is, the benefits of using one and what to look for, you might be wondering which trading simulator we recommend.
At Admiral Markets, we think the MetaTrader trading platform – a professional trading software – is one of the best trading simulators available. It’s also the world’s most popular trading platform, with a large support community, and the most advanced functionality for Forex and CFD trading online, which makes it the best option for someone who wants to start trading online with a free online trading simulator.
Just some of the functions of MetaTrader, and MetaTrader’s demo account, include:
- You can access thousands of the world’s financial markets – including Forex, stocks, indices, commodities, cryptocurrencies and more – through a single platform.
- You have the option to trade long (meaning you think the price of an investment will increase) or short (meaning you think the price of an investment will decrease).
- Because MetaTrader is one of the world’s most popular platforms, there is a lot of support available online, including forums, as well as an online marketplace with tools to boost your trading.
- Many instruments are available in microlots, meaning you can make smaller trades as you learn the ropes.
- All charts are populated with live market data, with prices shared in real time, and can be marked up with a range of indicators, trendlines and notes.
- This MetaTrader platforms allows you to do ultra-short-term trading (scalping) through one-click trading.
- The standard platform includes more than 50 technical indicators for detailed analysis.
In addition, Admiral Markets also offers the exclusive MetaTrader Supreme Edition, which is free for all Admiral Markets traders. MTSE includes a range of advanced features to help clients achieve the best trading results, including:
- Advanced technical analysis tools and featured trading ideas, provided by Trading Central,
- Extensive indicator package with over 16 indicators to enhance clients’ trading,
- Global opinion widget to help clients evaluate market sentiment,
- Mini Terminal and Trade Terminal widgets to make trade management more efficient than ever before,
- Tick Chart Trader to make it easier for clients to track their chart movements and find the best entry or exit point,
- Real-time market news so clients never miss a trading opportunity,
- Trading simulator so clients can try out new trading strategies, and
- Mini charts, which allow clients to see multiple time frames and chart types at a time.
If you’re ready to start trading on a free Forex simulator, click the banner below to download MetaTrader 5 today!
How to download the free MT4 and MT5 simulator
To access the MetaTrader simulator (available for both MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5), take the steps below:
Here are the steps to follow:
- Open a demo account here.
- Check your email for your trading account details.
- Download the MetaTrader trading platform (we recommend MT5 for a wider range of financial markets) and install it on your computer.
- Open MetaTrader on your computer, and enter the demo trading account details from your email.
Now you can start trading in the simulation platform with virtual funds! You can also see the download and installation process for MetaTrader in the video below.
How to download MetaTrader Supreme Edition
While having a MetaTrader demo account is all you need to start trading simulations, there are some additional features in MetaTrader Supreme Edition that can be helpful for more advanced simulations.
To download and install MetaTrader Supreme Edition, follow these steps:
- If MetaTrader is already open on your computer, close it.
- Download MTSE here.
- Run the installation file.
- Open MetaTrader, and you will see the advanced features in the Navigator window, under Indicators and Expert Advisors.
You can also see the full installation process for MetaTrader Supreme Edition in the video below.
Step by step guide: Forex trading simulators
MetaTrader Supreme Edition comes with two useful Forex and stock market simulators – one is the trading strategy tester, which allows you to test different trading strategies against historical price data. The second is the day trading simulator, which specifically tests day trading strategies.
Trading strategy tester
The strategy tester in MetaTrader Supreme edition is our best CFD simulator for simulated trading. Here is how you can use it to test stock and Forex trading strategies:
- Once you’ve installed the MTSE platform, you can start by pressing Ctrl+R or by clicking the button (as shown in the example below).
- Select your preferred template, based on the strategy you wish to test.
- Select the preferred time frame, and make sure that you have enough historical data loaded up. For a daily chart strategy, start with three years of data. For most intraday strategies, 6-12 months of data will be enough.
- Next, adjust your account balance to match what you will have in your live account.
- Once completed, click the Start button.
In this example, we will use the Master Candle template, and will simulate (approximately) six months of trading (note that this template is not one of the standard inclusions in MetaTrader Supreme Edition, so you will need to code the rules in MQL4 for this strategy, hire a programmer or obtain a template online).
To ensure the best speed and quality, apply these settings:
- Model: Open prices or Every tick
- Visual mode: Checked (to ensure visual backtesting data)
- Period: Select a period that matches your trading strategy
- Spread: Current
- The slider just after the visual mode option allows you to speed up or slow down the visual backtesting process.
- If you use the Every tick model to test your Forex strategy – bear in mind that it might take a really long time to finish backtesting.
- The Every tick should be the most accurate, but also the slowest one.
- Backtest and backtest again – until you discover profitable settings.
Once finished with the visual backtest, click the Results or Report tab and view the result. In the example below, we can see that the Master Candle strategy has produced approximately 6.72% ROI (Return On Investment) during the tested period.
After you finish with testing, you will be able to publish and print the result (see below).
Day trading simulator
The day trading simulator lets you place market and pending orders, set trailing stops, alter the stop loss and take profit on orders by clicking on the chart, save complex order definitions as templates, quickly close all open orders, and access many more features that are not available as standard in MetaTrader 4.
Once you select your historical data, the day trading simulator will go bar by bar through the markets and you can manually pause it to place a trade. It will then add up those trades in a Profit and Loss statement at the end of the time period, as described here.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Open MetaTrader 4.
- Open the strategy tester by clicking on the icon or pressing Ctrl+R.
- Choose the expert advisor titled Admiral – Trading Simulator.ex4, then set your trading instrument and a time frame.
- If you do not know which testing model to use specifically, choose Open Prices only. Only use other settings if you have enough experience.
- Next, choose your preferred time window, making sure that enough historical data exists for this period.
- To make the simulation more authentic, adjust the initial account balance in the EA options to match your live account. You can do this by clicking Expert Properties within the simulator window, and then by clicking on the Testing tab.
To ensure maximum speed and quality of the day trading simulator, apply these settings:
- Model: Open prices
- Visual mode: Checked (to ensure visual backtesting data)
- Period: Select a period that matches your trading strategy
- Spread: Current
You can then apply different templates, add your indicators, trade normally, and see if your strategy worked or not. The major advantage of day trading simulators is the ability to backtest your strategy through different time periods. In the example below, you can see the example of backtesting using a custom template. The end result was EUR 1,748 in profit.
The day trading simulator will also allow you to thoroughly analyse your trading activity if you press the ‘Analyse’ button within the Mini Chart window.
MTSE tools and tips
The Smart Lines tool use line objects drawn on an MT4 chart as the stop-loss or take-profit for positions. They provide three main features:
- Trend-line stop-loss (or take-profit);
- Multiple partial stops at different prices (i.e. partial closes at different price levels);
- Time-based stops (e.g. close all positions at midnight).
When used with the day trading simulator, you can use the Smart Lines tool to make manual trades, which will then be tracked by the simulator.
In order to create a smart line, just do the following:
- Draw a horizontal line, a vertical line, or a trend-line on the chart;
- Hold down the Alt key while clicking on the line.
A window (such as the example below) will then pop up, allowing you to choose which action the line should take.
Tips to save time in your trading
Another helpful tool in MetaTrader Supreme Edition is the SpeedFactor parameter, which slows down the simulation. The larger the value, the slower the simulation. The main way of controlling the speed of the Simulator is to use the slider next to the Visual Mode box, which contains values between 1 to 32.
The effect of the slider depends on:
- How powerful your computer is;
- How many indicators you add to the simulator;
- How many ticks are in each simulated bar.
As a general rule:
- Value 32 on the slider will be extremely fast.
- Values 28 to 31 will be between 10 and 20 times faster than in real life (e.g., an M15 bar is simulated within 1 minute).
- Values 20 to 27 will be between 2 and 5 times faster than in real life.
- Values below 10 will be at approximate real-life speed (i.e. each M15 bar takes 15 minutes).
You can also experiment with the slider to find the best combination for your computer, and how quickly you want the simulation to run. Additionally, you can also control the speed of the simulation further using the EA’s SpeedFactor property. You set this by clicking on the Expert properties button in the strategy tester, and then by altering the Value property on the Inputs tab.
Source: Admiral Markets Trading Simulator MT4
Other online trading simulator software: Trading games
Another type of Forex simulator, aside from a demo account on a platform like MetaTrader, is a trading game.
Here are some examples:
- Best brokers: In this stock market simulator you start with $25,000 and have to grow it by building a portfolio, with over 60,000 stocks and cryptocurrencies to choose from. It also comes with a financial news feed.
- Bux: Bux is an app on both iOS and Android, which gives you 1,000 virtual dollars (‘bux’) that you can use for online stock trading, particularly on well-known companies like Facebook and Amazon. The app draws on live market data, and you can transition to a live account after trying the virtual option.
- Stock Wars: This app allows you to manage a virtual portfolio and place real-time orders with virtual money.
- Invstr: Invstr allows you to place virtual bets on the stock market, along with providing a financial news feed and social forums. While the app is free, some of the information is only available for a fee.
- Stock & Forex Trading Game: In this game, you can trade on world markets while competing against friends. The game is targeted at beginners, with quizzes and cartoons, and all trading simulations happen in real time.
Our thoughts on free trading simulation software
While Forex games can be a fun way to start trading, the best place to start is using the software that you will actually use when you start trading on a live account. And the best way to do this is by signing up for a demo account – or Forex simulator – with a broker who also offers live trading, like Admiral Markets does through MetaTrader 4 and Metatrader 5.
The MetaTrader platforms are the most popular Forex platforms in the world and one of the most advanced platforms for online currency trading. For that reason, there’s a high chance that you will continue trading in a live MetaTrader account after trialling the free simulator.
You’ve tried simulator trading: When to start trading on a live account?
While Forex and stock trading simulators offer a great opportunity to practice your trading, it’s best not to do too many demo operations in a trading simulator. Why? Simply because it can be easy to treat a demo account as a crutch – one that prevents you from gaining experience trading the live markets using real money.
This is one of the reasons why many brokers have an expiry date on their simulators – usually 30 days after opening a demo account.
After choosing your Forex simulator software, the first step for transitioning to a live account is to set a goal – what do you want to achieve in your demo account before transitioning to a live one? For example, you might want or achieve monthly returns of at least 3%, or a profit of $1,000 for three straight months without losses.
Then, once you start trading in a live account, don’t be afraid of failure. Traders often experience losses, especially towards the beginning of their trading careers. If you exercise risk management within your trading, you can manage the risks effectively, and may be able to avoid them altogether.
There are many cases of traders who failed at some point but ended up producing significant profits. For example, Jesse Livermore became famous making a fortune by shorting the stock market in 1929. However, he experienced both great success and humiliating failure during his ventures, filing for bankruptcy three times while also becoming a Wall Street legend by amassing a $100 million fortune through speculative trades.
Not every trader’s story is as dramatic and exciting as Livermore’s. The good news is that, if you fear failure, you can gain experience and confidence by using risk-free Forex trading simulation software. Before trading FX professionally, it is crucial to gather experience – preferably, without losing money in the process. You can do this by educating yourself on Forex trading, and practising what you’ve learned by demo trading, as we’ve discussed in this article.
It’s especially important not to be afraid of failure when trading in a Forex simulator. We have observed that some Traders open positions and if they obtain losses they open another demo account to replenish their initial balance. However, this isn’t how you’d behave with a live account, and shows that you’re probably not prepared to face the inevitable losses that Trading entails.
Operating with a free trading simulator should not influence your purchasing power. Instead, we still encourage you to operate as you would in the real market.
The next area to consider is creating a strategy. Many traders find it difficult to start trading on a real trading account because they find it difficult and risky to engage in trading without a trading strategy. Fortunately you can see our best strategies for getting started here.
Trade With MetaTrader Supreme Edition
If you’re ready to take your trading experience to the next level, look no further than MetaTrader Supreme Edition! Gain access to fantastic features such as the correlation matrix – that enables you to compare and contrast currency pairs, as well as the latest trading information and technical analysis provided by Trading Central. Receive all of this and much more! Click the banner below to receive your free MetaTrader Supreme Edition download!
Keep learning to trade here:
Admiral Markets is a multi-award winning, globally regulated Forex and CFD broker, offering trading on over 8,000 financial instruments via the world’s most popular trading platforms: MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. Start trading today!
This material does not contain and should not be construed as containing investment advice, investment recommendations, an offer of or solicitation for any transactions in financial instruments. Please note that such trading analysis is not a reliable indicator for any current or future performance, as circumstances may change over time. Before making any investment decisions, you should seek advice from independent financial advisors to ensure you understand the risks.