There is a difference of opinion among traders on whether paper trading is useful or not. Some will say that it is not realistic since you don’t have any money at risk. And once your money is at risk, emotions cloud judgment, as fear and greed become your enemies.
You will begin to get a feel for how it all flows together and you will become accustomed to staring at the blinking numbers all day. Once you feel like you can effectively place and manage trades very quickly and you know what you are seeing on the screen, you should go live.
What people often fail to see is that it’s another story when you’re sitting in a trade which is in your face and you know that every tick is costing you x amount of dollars and you’re second guessing your judgement and high on adrenaline.
These points are valid, but paper trading offers you the opportunity to get familiar with trading and to see if you are on the right track. It also allows you to make adjustments to your trading plan.
You should trade on a simulator for, at most, maybe a month. It is a good tool for learning how to use your platform. You definitely do not want to make mousing errors and have issues with placing and canceling orders or adjusting quantity, etc.
Many traders often go back to paper when they are struggling as a way to get back on track. Overall, it is not the complete experience, but it is an excellent tool before you put your money at risk.
Traders can go to Thinkorswim in order to get started. Once you've completed the sign-up process you will be able to try out the platform.