Well, it’s that time again, and no, I don’t mean Football Season. For those of you new to the CBLE testing game and for others who are well familiar with the joys and rigors of this exam, the next CBLE will take place on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. Registration is now open and will close on September 26, 2022. ALL individuals must register for the exam through an online CBP broker examination registration portal.What is the CBLE, and why should you care? The Customs Broker License Exam is the bi-annual examination given by US Customs and Border Protection for the purpose of assessing an individual’s knowledge of US Customs and related laws, regulations, and procedures, among other areas. A passing score of 75% is required to obtain a License to be a Customs Broker (LCB). You must also be at least 21 years of age, a US citizen, and of good moral character. An LCB is required to clear goods through customs, file customs entries, and pay duties and fees on behalf of importers. LCB’s also act as liaisons between the federal government and importers/exporters.
The CBLE consists of 80 multiple-choice questions, and the examination lasts 4.5 hours. The exam typically includes the following topics: Entry; Classification; Trade Agreements; Valuation; Broker Compliance; Power of Attorney; Marking; Drawback; Bonds; Foreign Trade Zones/Bonded Warehouse; Warehouse Entries; Intellectual Property Rights; Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures; and other subjects pertinent to brokers’ duties.
Preparation is key; the more prepared you are, the better you will do on the exam. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can just wing it – while the April 2022 exam’s pass rate was the highest in recent memory at 39.6%, on average, the pass rate has been between 3% and 20%. To put it into perspective, I’ve detailed the recent pass rates for other professional exams:
- The Bar Exam: 65-68% pass rate
- The American Board of Internal Medicine: 89%
- CPA Exam Pass Rates: between 45%-50%
I share these statistics not to scare you but rather to stress that this exam is not a cakewalk and that a good study routine is paramount. With 4.5 hours to complete 80 questions, that leaves about 3 minutes per question, so you will need to locate the information needed to answer the questions quickly. Organize your study material with this in mind, using indexes and tabs. Each question has the same point value; a good strategy is to answer the easy questions first, leaving more time for the more difficult questions. As for which areas you should focus on, here are a few tips based on how the exam has been structured in the most recent history:
Classification represents about 30% of the exam. If you score poorly on this section, passing is almost impossible. The Entry process and related questions represent about 15% of the exam, with Trade Agreements, Broker Compliance, and Valuation representing about 20%. The rest of the exam, listed in descending order, is made up of questions from FTZ & Warehousing, Practical Exercises, Fines and Penalties; Marking, Bonds and Drawback; ADD/CVD, IPR and POA; and finally, Recordkeeping and Quotas. These 16 topics accounted for 99% of the questions set in the exam. This is where you should spend most of your time studying.
Happy studying and GOOD LUCK. Don’t miss the deadline to register!