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15 May 2013

How to Memorize PMP Formulas

Four Keys to Memorizing Anything

Memorization is like eating my biscuits. You use a knife and a cutting board to cut them into smaller pieces. Then you bite them into even smaller pieces with your incisor before chewing and chewing with your molars, sometimes on the right side of your mouth, then on the left side of your mouth.

Memorizing a formula, you use a pen and paper to break it into parts. Then you repeatedly work on the pieces. Sometimes you write them and sometimes you say them out loud so you involve more than one sense. Unlike my biscuits, you put the pieces back together in medium-sized pieces and chew on them for a while before putting the whole formula together and chewing on it.

The keys so far are
  • Smaller pieces
  • Repetition
  • Multiple senses
  • Reassembly

The Fifth Key to Memorization

The remaining key is (drum roll, please!)
  • Analysis
If you can understand a formula, you can recreate it without memorizing as much of it.

Example:  Point of Total Assumption in a Cost Reimbursable Contract

  • PTA = ((Ceiling Price - Target Price)/Buyer's Share)) + Target Cost
(I have limited the scope of this post to memorizing the formula, so please don't expect an explanation of Cost Reimbursable Contracts.)

The first step in analysis is to restate the formula in a fashion more visually decipherable.
  • PTA = Target Cost  +  (Ceiling Price - Target Price) / (Buyer's Share)
Notice that I turned the formula around.  I like to write formulas the way you would see it graphed: with the biggest portion first, at the bottom. Look at the inconsistent way most people present the Cost Estimating formulas, and taking this liberty will make even more sense.

The contract is Cost Reimbursable, so the first part of the PTA is what we hope the cost will be, the Target Cost.
  • PTA = Target Cost + some ugly fraction
The two price points above the Target Cost are the Ceiling Price and the Target Price. The Ceiling is higher, so it goes first:
  • (Ceiling Price - Target Price)/something
Something is the Buyer's Share.  Sorry, you'll just have to memorize that.

This is the point where you take total assumption of your own learning and put the formula back together. Remember, the keys to memorizing are
  • Smaller pieces
  • Repetition
  • Multiple senses
  • Reassembly
  • Analysis

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