Thursday, January 28, 2010

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 3: Using Looseleaf and Bound HTSUS and Regulations

Let’s face it; the materials necessary to study for the Customs Broker Exam are burdensome. Who wants to carry around a bunch of big heavy books? While it’s possible to use online versions while studying, we don’t recommend that you make a habit of this practice. Why? Because you cannot use the online version of the Regulations or HTSUS on the day of the exam. You will also want to make notes in your materials and highlight key words, phrases and sections. Use the online versions after you’ve passed the exam or when you need a quick answer to a client question and you have the online version readily available.

Now that we’ve determined that printed versions are best, what are the options? There are three primary options, looseleaf, paperback (perfect binding) and coil bound.

The looseleaf version is bulky; however, it can be easily updated when supplements are issued quarterly for the Regulations and in summer for the HTSUS. The print is larger than other versions, making it easier to read. There is also more room for making legible notes in the margin. If you use the looseleaf version, make sure you purchase a good quality binder so the pages turn easily and do not fall out of the binder.

Looseleaf editions can also be used in a publication rack, which allows them to sit open on a desk. The pages tend to turn more easily with a publication rack, and the disadvantage of bulkiness is essentially negated. This makes publication racks a popular choice for exam day.

Paperback/Perfect Binding
The Regulations produced using perfect binding resemble smaller paperback versions of the loose-leaf version (The paperback HTSUS is the same size as the looseleaf). The cover is made from heavier paper and is glued together at the spine with strong flexible glue. These books are lighter and slightly less expensive than the loose-leaf versions; however, they cannot be updated. If you are going to use the book regularly and make notes in the book, these might not be the best options. However, if you are looking for a book that is easy to carry for quick reference, then the paperback edition would be an excellent choice.

Coil Bound
Coil binding is commonly used for publications that are frequently opened so that the pages lie flat or back-to-back. Generally, binding is accomplished by punching holes along the entire length of the spine of the page and winding a wire through the holes to provide a fully flexible hinge at the spine. Coil bound versions are smaller and lighter weight than their looseleaf counterparts are (they are the same size as the perfect-bound). Coil binding is similar to looseleaf; however, the pages cannot be removed and they cannot be updated.

For persons taking the exam, we suggest that you consider the looseleaf book or a coil bound version. Both books are sturdy, and the primary differences relate to the ability to update the looseleaf version versus the ease of carrying the coil bound version.

Click HERE to view the various binding options for the CBP Regulations.

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