There is a great deal to be said about EXPERIENCE and at Logistics Training Systems, we feel that there is a lot of useful information to be shared by people who have taken the US Customs Broker Exam. We have asked a few of our students to do just that for you. Here are thoughts from students who have “been there, done that,” what study methods worked for them, and in some cases, what they might do differently for the next exam.
We sincerely hope that you can benefit from these Words of Wisdom.
I initially took the CBLE for the first time back in October 2021 and had prepared for it by purchasing the materials and study course from LTS in April of 2021. As my study habits have been considered unorthodox for a lack of better words, and I wanted to partake in the challenge of attempting the CBLE, I read the textbook chapter by chapter and the corresponding 19CRF chapter as well, word for word in all it’s glory! I also took the quizzes on the LTS website after each chapter once I completed my reading. As I was so involved in the reading of the textbook chapters and corresponding 19CFR chapters, ensuring everything was highlighted and tabbed for both, I did not view the chapter video sessions available on the site as time would not permit me to do so. Additionally, I made sure to read through the trade programs included in the HTSUS, along with highlighting and tabbing the HTUSUS chapters, so that I had an understanding of how the programs operated and could easily navigate the HTSUS when the time came.
As the October exam (which I opted to take remotely at home) came and went, I have to admit, in all of my academic and professional years, it was hands down the most difficult and intense test I have ever taken. Once I received the official notification letter from Customs with my score, which was a 62.5, I was impressed I did so well on the first go around as I have heard many a horror story from others, I have known to have taken the test as to how they would have been elated to receive such a good score at any point. At this point, I was deciding if I wanted to give it another go for the April 2022 exam and being the ultra-competitive Type A personality that I am, I knew I had to take the exam again as I felt I was so close to passing…
Fast forward to the preparation for the April 2022 exam, this time I viewed the videos on the site, compiled review notes from the information presented in the videos, which was the missing part of my initial study plan and read through the USMCA agreement that was received from LTS. Coupling the videos, notes from the videos and the previous highlighted / tabbed 19CFR & textbook, I was confident that I was fully prepared to take on the April 2022 exam and improve from my initial attempt in October.
On the day of the test, I have to admit that the Pearson Vue site was set-up well and I felt I had ample desktop room at my station as I was able to have my materials (19CRF, LTS textbook, HTSUS rack and any other printed notes) readily available without feeling crowded. The test itself was easy to navigate and I did not use the electronic version of the materials as I feel the interface is not user friendly and I preferred the hard copy as I was familiar with my set-up and able to easily navigate between and within when necessary. I ended up finishing the exam with ample time remaining, so I determined either I had 1.) Bombed the exam gracefully or 2.) Passed…
Now that I have rambled on incessantly, on to the point of my email. I received the official letter from Customs yesterday via email at 1:59PM EST and as I had initially determined from the answer record review, and indicated at the beginning of this email, I have indeed passed the April 2022 CBLE with a score of 82.5, which is an increase of 20 points from the October 2021 exam! All of the effort, time and work put into the preparation and study for both exams have paid off and I owe a good portion of my success to the LTS study program and materials. All of the printed materials (textbook, workbook, etc.), chapter quizzes and online videos are fantastic study aides and are valuable when navigating 19CFR and / or the HTSUS. Everything is presented in manner that makes comprehension and understanding of the materials clear and concise. With that being said, I would highly recommend anyone considering and / or interested in taking the CBLE to utilize the study material(s) and program(s) as provided by LTS as words enough do no justice for the program…
Hi Friend I passed the CBLE exam after 4 years and 5 exams with 85%. There were three things I thought I would never get while I was in the process. One was getting a US visa over a decade ago and 2nd was CBLE exam and 3rd I am still working on. The little voice telling me that I will get all of them and sometimes when you are tired with work and family life and demand from everywhere and everyone can get you.
DO NOT GIVE UP! And Say NO to everyone tells you what to do away from your goal with kindly but firmly. People who are not your true friends will be disappointed and upset. Just remember you are doing you and your loved ones.
So you ask what is the recipe for achieving? It is very simple but lots of work. Read with UNDERSTANDING. Know where the materials are. Tab. Tab Tab. Tab. Tab. And Tab again. Your Tab must be clear with print labels or permanent marker. I use both. It works!
The two challenges are English language itself and Antique wording from customs. I had to sit back and think why I want to pass this exam. I want to prove myself and the world that the person like me can do it and have credential for the career and spread the good deeds to others. Here is the secret sauce:
I certainly hope you can also enjoy the fruits that you seed!
Blessing with Joy
I would say, some people don’t have to study as much as others, don’t worry about those people. Study like there is not another chance to take the exam, one shot is all you get! I was not going to put myself through this again… haha. Follow the course program closely, do the work methodically, tab tab tab, use different color highlighters for key concepts, money (value, penalties, calculations), time frames, and another for any important supporting information. I used both the physical regulations and the online version, the physical for what I knew and wanted to confirm and the online to search for what I had no clue where to start. Buy the catalog rack and the rolly cart thing, you need the space and organization at the exam site. Take a few past exams at your own pace before attempting to take them under real exam time. And lastly be familiar with the online testing environment if this is your first time so you can worry about the test and not the navigation of it.
I enrolled into the LTS system from 2019. I failed my 1st Brokerage exam in April 2019 and 2nd one in Oct 2019 exam. One of my colleagues recommended me for LTS because he failed 4 times and finally passed at the 5th time.
I changed my strategy this time for using LTS resources.
(1) I tabbed the LTS textbook and heavily relied on it.
Reason: we need a passing exam, so we need to know where to find the answer!
Textbook has the most critical information for the exam questions. such as ” which one is not…” ” which 3 elements included in the ….” if you read the book thoroughly, you will pass 50%.
(2) I use their workbook a lot. Especially the previous exam section only for the previous 2 years, LTS consolidated per subject base for the questions so i was able to focus on certain subjects and review with 19 CFR + Textbook to get the match tab so i was able to find correct answers during exam.
(3) I practiced all practice exams from the year 2014, I practiced all HTS questions from the year 2016.
I did not put 4.5 hours for each of the practice exam. for the year from the year 2014-2018, in the 1st month (back to Jan) I read questions and highlighted all answers in Textbook and 19 CFR. I read HTS questions and highlight all special rules. 2nd month, I picked the lowest pass rate exam to practice. 3rd month, I did a mock exam using the year 2018-2020.
(4) The only thing I might have missed was I did not pay attention to FTA questions because it’s so challenging and too hard to understand. But from this time exam, it seems Customs can’t think of any new questions, so they picked 3 questions from the previous exam to test us. I still remembered two of the questions while I focused on FTA questions. but not others.
That being said, they will re-use the questions.
I missed 19 questions and i know some of them were stupid mistakes. But LTS such a great place to learn for this exam as long as you use all their materials. Remember we need to find the answers during the exam, LTS is teaching you the way to do it. as long as you stick to it, you will pass!
Hope that helps all future License brokers.
As I prepared for the Broker’s Exam, I knew up front that it would not be an easy road, but I had the full support of my family and my coworkers who have taken the exam and have become licensed Customs Brokers. First, you decide if you are going to use materials from a company like Logistics Training Systems or if you are just going to study the required materials listed by CBP. I highly recommend that you pay the money and get the study materials from LTS. The study materials are laid out in a logical manner and take you through the 19 CFR, HTS, and other items you need to pass the exam. I copied the index from the material because it had the cross reference from the book to the references and it saved me time instead of flipping to the back of the book. I had it right in front of me to use. This was a great tool that was provided, and I fully used it.
I have taken the exam three times. Each time, I improved my score, but it was still very disheartening because of all of the hours of studying I put in. The first time, I missed passing by 5 questions; second time, by 3 questions; and the third time by 1 question. The first two times, I didn’t have anything that I could protest as I truly missed the questions….but the last time, I had 1 question that I could protest. I put together my protest (2 pages in length), I showed agreement that the answer CBP gave was correct and provided the proof of that, provided the proof that the other two answers were definitely wrong, and then provided the proof that my answer was correct as well. I provided a definition and several references that proved my answer. I had several other people review my submission to see if there were any other references I should add and to help me wordsmith my protest. With all the resources available and with the help of my peers, I was able to put together a great protest and win my protest to pass the exam.
I personally used the hardcopy 19CFR and HTS verses the online ones. I did not want to waste time flipping back and forth with online materials during the exam and possibly running the risk of the exam crashing. Technology is great when it works but when you have a time limit for the exam, every second is precious. Remember, you only have about 3 minutes per question. Take your time and don’t skip around the exam. Start with question #1 and work your way through to #80. The ones that you are not sure of, take an educated guess, mark it, and then go back and review it at the end. The test will ask you if you want to review the questions that you marked before you click the submit button if you have time at the end. Read the questions carefully, look at the answers and remember if they use those key words, always and never, those are more than likely not the right answer. Use your references, look up the answers unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your selection is right. The most important thing is to breathe and don’t rush. Take your time and work through each question. As long as you fully commit to putting the time in to study and doing your very best on the exam, you will succeed.
If you don’t pass, review every question that you missed to see if it can be protested. Look up the references, read the question and the answers available, and decide whether it is protestable. Ask your peers for help with reviewing the questions you want to protest and your write up for any ideas of what should be added, deleted, or even if you should not protest a certain question because you can’t support your answer (I had one of those questions), and then submit it. Remember, CBP will not look at any protest until day 61 from the date of your exam results letter. Take your time putting your protest together. After submission, then the waiting begins (typical government, hurry up and wait ). I was notified the day before the exam registration closed for the next exam. You can register for the exam and if you find out you won your protest; you can withdraw and be refunded your exam fee.
Commitment, perseverance, and a positive attitude will bring success! Good luck, study hard, and go for it! You can do it!
I wanted to thank your company for the excellent program that enabled me to pass the October 2020 United States Customs brokers exam with a score of 77.5. The Course that your company offered was well focused and taught me everything that I needed to know. I wanted to share a few insights and the method that I used to pass the exam.
1. I had given myself approximately four months to study the material from the course. Every night for the first two months I read a chapter of the course materials and review questions. I was able to go over the full course approximately two times during this period.
2. In the last two months, I just practiced old exams. I made it appoint to read and review any section of the 19CFR that I did not have familiarity. I also made it appoint to review the answers for the questions from old exams offered by the course going back to 2005. By doing this, I got very familiar with the 19CFR. With this familiarity and in conjunction with having 19CFR tabbed – I was able to find the answers on the actual exam in a quick and effective manner.
3. Lastly, I also made it a point while doing practice exams (even if not doing a full exam) to attempt to answer the questions in approximately 3.5 minutes per question. This allowed me to simulate the time constraints on the actual exam. On the actual exam, this mastery of time efficiency allowed me to complete the exam in in the time allotted.
I hope this info help future students. Thanks again for your marvelous course.
For future LTS students, a word of advice from someone who joined the program very late in the process, AKA the underdog…
The ten golden rules for me were…
Read the chapters on 19CFR as assigned by the text book.
Read the chapter on the textbook
The textbook and the 19CFR are companions throughout this journey, they go step by step hand in hand, and will pull you out of anything CBP throws at you.
DON’T CHEAT YOURSELF; take your time for this information to soak in.
Every time you answer online exams from the LTS site, print them, they will serve as the best review material you will find. The citations on all answers are given for you to review. Also, keep in mind that CBP repeats the same question with different characters in the story. However, the concept being asked is the SAME… Review each chapter video as they will also help you put into perspective many concepts of the customs process.
Pay attention to details like:
Deadlines to notify things to CBP
Deadlines to pay CBP
Fines and penalties
The list goes on, but you will get the hang of it…
Allow your brain to rest; it is a lot of detailed information, don’t overload as you will find this practice to be counterproductive for you.
Meet people that have the same goal to become a broker. Join the FB group that quickly forms around the LTS students. You will find it very informative as well as stress releasing and funny, yes there are some crazy ones out there.
TAB, tab, Tab, tab, tab and really knock yourself out on tabbing. These are lifelines you wouldn’t believe how much you will use. Finding what you need quickly and accurately is KEY during the exam. Especially on questions that make you doubt yourself.
Your key to passing this exam is the TEXTBOOK.
Take good care of it.
Mark it, tab it and use it.
EVERYTHING that comes in the exam is in the textbook. You will find this out when you do the previous exams.
Breathe… anxiety can be a very bad thing during the exam.
You know this material and CBP will try to knock you off your horse. Being sure about yourself is what will keep you on that horse and on track to pass.
The study materials are GREAT!
Textbook: I used the textbook as my “cliff notes” if you will during the exam. If I couldn’t find the answer right in the textbook, I used it to get to where I needed to be in the Regs. Taking the test electronically, with a laptop directly in front of you taking up your prime study material real estate, is annoying, so I had my textbook on my lap.
Reference Book: 7501 Info/Instructions, ISO codes, Entry Type Codes, UOM’s, and Metric Conversions. You will find some form of all of these on the test, and they are all in the reference book. Don’t ask me where else you can find this information, because I don’t know, and didn’t have to.
Workbook/Previous Exam Questions: I did all of the questions in the workbook, and took 6 previous exams (2015, 2016 & 2017). I know for a fact that I would not have passed without doing this, and they really do repeat questions!
Advice/What worked for me
Read every word of everything posted in the Students Corner, especially the tips for the exam.
Set an aggressive study plan and stick to it, this is an aggressive exam.
Finish the textbook at least 4-6 weeks before the exam to leave yourself enough time to do previous exams/analysis and get through all of the workbook questions (I probably spent an equal amount of time going through the analysis of the exams as I did taking the exams). This is where you really find out what you’re up against, and what areas you need to go back and focus on.
So, you’ve decided to become a Customs Broker and have invested in or are thinking about investing in, the Logistics Training Systems course. Good Job! Now here’s my advice to you: USE IT!
LTS provides you with an excellent system and plan. But now it’s up to YOU to put it to use! FOLLOW their directions, READ and Re-read every word in their Class materials. DO AS THEY SAY and you can’t go wrong!
But if you don’t follow the plan, you WON’T get good results. Trust me on this!
LTS certainly knows what they are doing. ALL of their materials are chock full of useful information that may be on the exam! Don’t dismiss anything. Also, DO the tabbing that is recommended……and then some! I tabbed anything I got “stuck” on as I did practice exam questions for easy future reference. Every second of the exam is precious and if you’re fumbling around looking for info in 2 or 3 places…….you’ve wasted precious time.
In fact, I couldn’t deal with having the Classwork binders, Reference binders along with useful Fast Fact sheets all scattered about, in addition to the 12 inch catalog rack of the CFR 19 and HTS. All of this would have taken up way too much space in the small table area of about 3 feet by 3 feet that I sat in at the testing center. So what I did was purchase another catalog rack, 6 inches, and created a “References” rack in which I placed the Textbook Chapter Cross Reference, the Cross Reference Index. I disassembled the binders and placed into the small rack the Classwork chapters, References and even integrated the Video Sessions PowerPoint sheets accordingly. I had the larger catalog rack in front of me and the smaller references rack on my left and closer as I was referencing it LOTS. So in the end I had at my fingertips an abundance of reference materials that I could easily access without wasting precious time fumbling around with large binders. I had plenty of space to work in and Trust me……..every second counts!
At the end of the day and most importantly, LTS has a fantastic system that prepares you WELL for the customs broker exam. From their online and paper materials, to their invaluable online instructors and “coaches” who walk with you every step of the way and keep you motivated, they are truly experts and pros in the customs broker exam preparation process! If you follow their instructions and USE their materials to their fullest……..you are most certain to do well. I recommend it here and will in person always. Best of luck to you.
I scored a 92.5% on the October 2016 test with zero industry experience. I am actually a practicing attorney who passed the California bar exam, and I truly believe that this test rivals the bar exam in difficulty. So buckle down, and get yourself as much time as possible to prepare for this monster. As a side note, I think it would be a waste of time to attempt this test without a prep course.
Give yourself a realistic amount of time to complete the entire course, including the midterm test. For each chapter, read the regulations and the textbook and make sure you complete the practice test afterwards to ensure you really understand the material. A few weeks into the program, I tried to take 1-2 hours a week to review previous chapters just to keep them fresh in my memory.
When you are budgeting your time, give yourself a solid chunk of time to compete as many practice tests as possible (I think I did every test going back since 2007). CBP repeats questions like crazy, and there is no better feeling than knowing an answer to a question because you have seen it on a previous test. On a related note, when you take a practice test, go through every question and answer to ensure (1) you got it right because you knew the answer and weren’t just guessing; and (2) if you got a questionwrong, you understood why. I actually took notes (which I brought into the exam) for classification questions that I missed on practice tests that were based on random rulings. Sure enough, there were at least two questions (identical to questions from previous tests) that I would have missed if I didn’t have these notes.
The key to this test is timing and learning to find information as quickly as possible. Take advantage of the cheat sheets provided, and get used to using them and make notes on them if you find that helpful.
I tabbed the regulations with both the section number and a brief description of what the section covered (TAB EVERYTHING—I used the recommended tabs but also snuck in tabs for questions that frequently popped up on practice tests). Then, I made flashcards of which sections contained what information so I wouldn’t have to even think about where sections were located. I made a few other flashcards of really common information and took them everywhere (watching tv, commuting etc). The more you can memorize easy stuff (like the date used for currency conversion), the more time you will save.
Highlighting is SUPER helpful too. I like to highlight the start of each subsections (so you can see all the exceptions to the rules or all of the requirements for something) and monetary amounts. I also underlined words like “shall/may/must/may not” and words like “and” and “or” because those words can make all the difference in understanding rules.
Don’t even think about trying a practice test before you complete the study program. You won’t be ready. It will simply waste your time and frustrate you.
For the Exam:
Organize everything the night (or two nights if you are staying in a hotel) before: make sure you have a SILENT calculator that works, pencils, your email with the information to get in, your ID, etc. Make a checklist and make it super easy on yourself.
Bring a small dictionary to the exam. Especially for classification questions, there were several words (especially in regards to chemical compounds and textiles) that I had never heard before.
Bring a watch, and keep track of your time. If a question is taking too long, fill in your best guess and mark to come back to it later. My test site didn’t have clocks, so if I didn’t have a watch, I would have basically only known when I was halfway done because they announced it.
If you don’t live close to testing site, book a room at a nearby hotel if at all possible. This saved me so much time and stress. Also, you might be able to write it off on your taxes as a business expense (but please check with your tax professional before doing so).
Get to the test early. If you’re not going to eat breakfast at home, research the nearest coffee place and budget time accordingly. It’s a LONG day if you don’t eat breakfast. I actually brought little candies (those fruit Mentos) and ate them during the test to keep my energy up. Also, use the restroom before the test starts. Yes, you can get up during the test but you will lose valuable time.
I hated this test because it occasionally feels like they are intentionally trying to mislead you. As such, read every word to every question and answer. On the converse, however, sometimes the questions really are straightforward. So, be careful, but trust yourself (easier said than done).
When you review a question, cross off the answers you know are wrong and circle your final answer. I marked the ones I was SURE on and marked ones I wasn’t sure on. I had a little extra time at the end, and it was easy to return to the ones I wasn’t sure about. Since you can take the booklet home, this approach has an added benefit as, when LTS releases its analysis of the exam, you can compare your answers and get a sense of how you did.
Finally, listen to the proctors and ask them questions. There are optional questions in the beginning and the end of the test that are located on different portions of the Scantron. Make sure you are filling in the right bubbles and ask the proctors if you aren’t sure.
The LTS textbook is just as powerful as the 19CFR book.
I would say the biggest time saver I had during the exam, was that I had written in additional notes within the margins of the index of the textbook. On the Practice Tests if it took me longer than 2 min 30 seconds to locate a specific question (excluding the classification) I would write something in the index margin to create a trigger point in my mind where it is located.
Additionally, reviewing previous exams is just as important. The questions that were “give backs” with no correct answer, you had to quickly identify that “the correct answer is not available” or you could spend a considerable amount of time looking for it.
I would also recommend studying 2 chapters per night and on the weekends doing a weekly recap. (The textbook is roughly 36 chapters so this method can be completed in just over 3 1⁄2 weeks).
After taking the April 2010 exam, I was disappointed to later learn I missed a passing score by 2 questions. After a couple weeks, the disappointment turned to motivation and I went through every single question I missed to make sure I understood the answer CBP provided as the ‘correct’ answer. I also scoured the internet to see if there were any blogs, articles and etc. to see if others posted information about questions they thought could be protested. Through my research, I came up with four questions to protest. I spent weeks reading the regulations and writing and rewriting my protest to ensure I had the best chance to have credit granted. Then I submitted the protest and waited…..and waited….. and waited until one day a couple months later the letter arrived…..CBP granted credit for only one of the four protest questions.
I spent several more weeks rewriting and rewriting my arguments for the other three questions I did not get credit for. Then I submitted the second protest in October 2010 and waited…..and waited….. and waited…..and waited…..and ran to the mailbox every day, until one day in mid March 2011, almost a year after taking the exam, the letter arrived…..CBP granted credit for one more question and I passed, barely, but I passed. It was almost more effort and stress to write the protests than studying for the exam, but the moral of the story is do not give up!
There’s so much more – download and read when you can, but don’t miss out on the valuable advice from past LTS students!