Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Customs Broker Examination, CH 3, Part 2: Preparing Source Materials

The following is an excerpt of The Customs Broker Examination, by Scott Warren Taylor and Andrew Moxon. This book is a part of the Customs Broker Exam Preparation Course from Boskage Commerce Publications. We'll be posting a large excerpt here, with new posts every Tuesday morning. Click here if you want to read the whole book right away.

Chapter 3: Methods of Study

Part 2: Preparing Source Materials

Memory Versus Facility With Resource Materials

There are two types of competency being tested in the examination room. First is your competency in recalling information about CBP Regulations – how quickly you can recall the information, how accurately, how appropriately. For this reason, a certain amount of memorization is required. You will have to build a memory of CBP facts. This memory can occur naturally, as it does for most people, through the day-to-day encounter with a variety of products and instances typical of a customs broker’s office, or memory can be forced by rote repetition, by creating fact sheets, by drilling on certain key figures, dates, deadlines, fine amounts, and so on. But in either case, the CBE will be much more difficult without a sizable, quickly accessible storehouse of memorized information from which to draw during the highly-pressured hours in the examination room.

Key to passing the CBE is your competency in recalling information about CBP Regulations. How quickly and accurately you can recall the information is an important factor in determining your chances of success. You will have to build a memory of CBP facts.

Testing your memory is only part of the CBE, however. There is another type of competency being tested in the examination room, namely, your competency in researching the correct answer in the HTSUS or the Regulations. No one answers all 80 questions from memory. A significant percentage of them are answered based upon examination-room research. This is a test of your familiarity and facility with the texts themselves. The assumption is that a licensed broker must be able to handle both the common elements of importation – facts that are committed to memory – and the uncommon elements of importation which must be researched.

For example, most test-takers can answer certain factual questions about the entry process, but few can provide precise details about an act of forfeiture or seizure — an act that occurs rarely in the course of daily customs brokerage activities. For this reason, the student must demonstrate the ability to research quickly in a manner indicative of close familiarity with the research materials, i.e., the Regulations and the HTSUS.

The following information will help you prepare your research materials to enhance even the most competent student’s efforts. It will help you reduce search time and therefore provide more examination room time for difficult questions that require consideration.

Tips on Preparing Your Resource Materials
The government editions of both the HTSUS and the CBP Regulations, your primary study texts, are without index tabs. It is recommended that you purchase a set or two of the plastic rectangular type.

Once you have obtained tabs, tab each of the 22 major sections. You may prefer to tab each chapter instead of or in addition to the 22 major sections. You should also mark the beginning of the General Notes, the General Rules of Interpretation, and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation.

Continuing through the book, mark (if possible) each section with its generic title. Section XI, for example, would be marked simply “Section XI – Textiles.”

Some students index their HTSUS books further with a different type of smaller, colored, outside index tab marked separately with each of the more commonly referenced chapters, such as Chapter 62, “Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted.” Using this method, Section XI would have additional index tabs, perhaps marked with the same color as the major section and thereby indicating that they are part of Section XI. Whether or not you index each chapter is up to you, but tabbing the section headings themselves somehow is a must.
Next, you should index your copy of the Regulations by tabbing each Part. Whether or not you also index each subpart with a different type tab is up to you, but because they are fewer, and the reference is more frequent, it seems to make more sense here than it did in the HTSUS and is advisable.

19 CFR lists hundreds of Parts, but because of changes in the CBP Regulations, many Parts have been taken out or were never included in the first place. The number of tabs you use should correspond to the sections commonly referred to on the CBE. A listing of these sections appears later in this guide.

Many students also find that the published index for both the HTSUS and the CBP Regulations is hard to locate quickly. These students would recommend moving the indexes to the very front of both volumes and purchasing a heavy-duty D-Ring binder. The key is to obtain a binder strong enough and large enough to contain the HTSUS without binding, breaking, or tearing pages. Some students find using a sturdy metal publications rack makes finding information in the HTSUS easier to locate.

This concludes today's excerpt from The Customs Broker Examination.

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