Stock market games have been getting extremely popular in the classroom, since they can be a great way to learn about social studies, business, personal finance, and even some great math exercises.
Why I want to find the best stock game
I first got into using stock games as part of a school project, our teacher had us keep track of some companies using our notebooks, and we would go to the computer lab every few weeks to check the prices of our picks. This is actually called “paper trading”, and has been around for as long as the stock market. What I noticed was that when we played this way, we didn’t have a great incentive to pay attention – we picked a few companies we knew about on the first day, then we didn’t really make any more “trades” afterwards, just watched the progress. We played from January through March, but all we could really do was record some prices and make a graph.
I’ve put my original stock log here – I always saved my old notebooks and this is the first time its come in handy! Just with this short activity though, there’s a ton of pitfalls I can see in retrospect.
- All 3 of these stocks posted dividends during my tracking period, but I had no idea, and so these aren’t figured into my “profits”.
- I didn’t really have a reason to track quantities this way, so everything I have just assumes I had one stock of each.
- We didn’t go to the computer lab every day, so when I was making my graphs at the end, there were some big gaps
- I didn’t know how I was doing compared to any of my classmates unless we sat down to compare.
- Since I wasn’t actively trying to do any “better”, I never really looked up any other companies or got other ‘trading ideas’.
Web-Based Stock Games
After I finished school, I did get more into investing when I was in college, and I did another stock game as part of a business class using Stock-Trak, which was the first web-based stock game.
You wouldn’t believe the difference it had! Since I didn’t have to keep track of everything with pen and paper, I was making a lot more trades, and looking up a lot more company’s information. It was really night-and-day, and I haven’t bothered with pencil and paper since.
Now, I help people with personal finance, and I like both helping teachers use the best stock games in their classes, and finding great ways for individuals to use a stock simulation to practice trading strategies before risking real money.
I will be reviewing the most popular stock market games on the web, from the perspective of what would be the best to use in a class, what would be the best to use among friends, and which is best just to use on your own to build a trading strategy.
Best Stock Games For Schools
For classrooms, these are the criteria I will be basing my ratings on:
- How easy is it for a student to use? Are there things like tutorial videos and guides, or do students just have to jump in and figure things out?
- Is there educational content about the stock market and investing that caters to students, high school and younger?
- How easy is it for a teacher to set up a contest and get their students in it?
- How easy is it for students to get trading ideas and start trading?
- How easy is it for students to track their portfolios? Are there any built-in graphs?
- Are there any other teacher tools or perks that make this better to use in a class?
- Can teachers make their own custom rules?
- How engaging is it for students? Are there good class rankings, and ways for students to talk about their strategies?
- Can students trade things like bonds and mutual funds, or is it just stocks?
- Does the game post all my dividends and stock splits?
- Can students cheat?
Best Stock Games For Contests
I love using stock games with my friends to see who can build a better portfolio over a couple months. I will also be doing reviews for which games are best just to use with a group of friends or co-workers. I’ll be basing my ratings on:
- How quick can I get a contest up and running?
- Are there some research tools I can use to do more detailed analysis?
- Can I see daily/weekly/monthly returns?
- How accurate are the rankings?
- Are there more resources to learn about trading strategies and other investments?
- How easy is it for someone I invite to get started?
Stock Games For Individuals
I also use stock games myself to test my own trading strategies, so I will be doing some extra reviews based on using it on your own (or at least not with a group you already know). I’ll be basing these ratings on:
- Can I run multiple portfolios to test strategies side-by-side?
- Can I have a watchlist of stocks to keep track of, without having to buy?
- Are there public contests that I can join to compare strategies with others?
- Are there any advanced research tools and analyst ratings to help me pick stocks?
- Can I win any real money or prizes if I’m doing well?
I’ve already tested dozens of stock games over the years, so stay tuned for their definitive ranking!