[Free PMP Resources] 47 PMP Easily Confused Terms w/w In-depth Explanation

PMP Easily Confused Terms w/w In-depth Explanation

Note to Aspirants taking the exam from 26 March 2018 onwards: This article is also applicable to your exam preparation as the changes to the PMBOK® Guide in 6th edition do not affect the definitions of the these terms. You can begin your PMP® Exam Prep journey now. Happy learning!

To many Aspirants, the PMP® Exam is quite difficult. The fact that there are lots of “jargons” (terms with a special meaning in the context of the PMBOK® Guide/project management) only makes it harder. Even if you are a seasoned project manager, the terms found in the PMBOK® Guide may be Greek to you if you have never run projects based on the PMBOK® Guide framework.

During my study, I have identified a list of “similar but different” terms that I often get confused. I deliberately tried to explain the terms in my own language as well as adding some common, easy-to-understand examples as illustrations to further clarify the concepts. And I found this study notes very useful for me to understand and distinguish between the easily confused PMP® terms. Below is the list I have compiled and the links to the study notes I have created previously. I was asked by one of my readers to create this list as the individual articles are quite difficult to find on the website through browsing.

I was very grateful to all the PMP®s and project management specialist who have helped me to clear my PMP® Exam. So I share this exam prep resources to fellow Aspirants for free as my personal contribution to the project management field.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to validate the accuracy of the contents of these articles, the information contained herein is provided for reference and may be subject to errors, omissions, changes and deletions. Please let me know if I have mistaken something so that I will make amendments in no time. Thanks for your input!

47 Pairs of Easily Confused Terms

By understanding the differences and similarities between these pairs of terms, Aspirants will have a better grasp of the knowledge of the PMBOK® Guide and project management:

How to Make Best Use of the List

For every pair of easily confused terms above, there are some background information on where (the project management domains) the terms are located with brief definitions of each of them. Then a project example will be used to illustrate the concept more vividly (most of the time the project to be illustrated is the “preparation for the PMP® Exam” — a project that is very familiar to Aspirants :P). If applicable, differentiation and applicability of the terms in different scenarios will be further expounded in the subsequent sections.

During my exam preparation, after looking at the pair, I would think for a while the definitions of the terms through the sample project. I did not try to remember the definition word by word or learn them by heart as the PMP® Exam is not a test of your memorization capability — you will just need to understand the differences between them. This method helps me a lot by reducing the time and stress on these easily confused terms.

Even if you do not confuse between the project management terms, this list will also serve as a last minute study notes to test your understanding of the PMBOK® Guide / project management concepts. I sincerely hope that this will be useful to you!

Wish you PMP® success!

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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56 Responses

  1. Ssahera says:

    I would like to thank you for putting all your effort and making this site. This site has really helped me to clear all my doubt on the topics which i had confusion. I appreciate your help. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

  2. Sameer M. Naik says:

    Hello Edward, Your blog is very informative and helped me completely during my studies, I should credit you too for my successful completion of PMI-ACP. Thank you very much.
    Sameer Naik

  3. Vijay says:

    Hi Edward, just wanted to say thanks for your guidance through useful sharing. It really helped me in PMP preparation.
    And the good news is I have cleared my PMP exam today in firsty attempt.
    Keep up the good work..!!!

  4. Vijay says:

    Hi Edward, thanks a ton for your guidance through these materials and links. It really helped me in clearing my exam today.
    I have cleared my PMP exam today in first attempt.

  5. Kumaran says:

    Hi Edward,
    I have given the PMP exam today and cleared with 5 AT’s. Used Rita’s book extensively. However towards the last week before the exam date, your website helped me put all together. You are doing a great job. Thank you for all your efforts.

  6. Mahabub says:

    Hi Edward,
    I used to visit your website and it seems to me very informative. I will appreciate if you can help me by explaining the flow/sequence of each approved change requests to QC, Direct & Manage P.W. and Control Proc. and the reason behind it.

    Best regards


  7. Sudam says:

    Happy to say “I am PMP certified with all 5 AT”. Thanks Edward for giving this all information, its initial inspiration while starting study. 47 commonly confusing Term’s explanation & EVM questions are at Best.

  8. Anu says:

    Edward, your website is extremely helpful. Thank you so much for putting it together. I have a few questions and hope you can help out:
    1) What’s the difference between communication model and communication method?
    2) Stakeholders needs and expectations are to be captured in the stakeholder management plan. As regards communicating with stakeholders, where should that be documented? in other words what are the subtle differences between stakeholder management strategy and communication management plan as it pertains to stakeholders?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Anu,

      Thanks for your comments.

      1) Communication Methods refer to the board categories how communication is done, i.e. interactive, push or pull; while the PMBOK Guide only mentions the (Shannon-Weaver model) Sender-Receiver Model

      2) The Communication Management Plan is dependent on the Stakeholder Register to find out what information each stakeholder requires and decide which method(s) are best for satisfying stakeholder *communication* needs. The Stakeholder Management Strategy is in a broader sense than communication management as we also need to take care other requirements or needs of the stakeholders based on the influence or impact the stakeholders have on the project.

      Wish you PMP success!

  9. Micky says:

    This website is so good! Helped me in so many ways to pass my PMP today with all 5 AT’s. Thanks so much for this great list of resources.

    • Edward Chung says:

      Congratulations Micky! Your results are perfect. Would you be so kind as to share your exam experience with others who will surely find it very useful. Please email the sharing to me at edward.chung.designer [at] gmail [dot] com.


  10. Alvaro Yanes says:

    This is by far the best free PMP study source!! Taking the PMP in 3 days!! This is just what I need to make sure the little things don’t turn into big things!!

  11. Mridula Nair says:

    Hi Edward,

    Happy New Year!

    I was going through the first chapter under PMBOK and have a query regarding “Project vs Operations”. For example: A construction firm builds a school building at a particular location & delivers it to the client at a specified date. We will rightly call this activity as a project. Now lets assume that the same firm gets a new contract to build the same structure of school building in a different location- no changes in structural design. Will we still call this as a project ? My query here is it is not unique product. The firm is repeating the activity at a different location, so it should be operation. Kindly help me clear this query.

    In addition I did not understand a couple of sentences from PMBOK like “Temporary nature refers to Project engangement”. Secondly “project can create a product that can be component of another item”. or capability to perform a service. Can you pls help me understand these terms in a simple way.

    Hoping to hear from you as soon as possible

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Mridula,

      Happy new year. Please find my answer below:

      1) I would still call the second building exercise a “project” as even though the same school is to be built, lots of planning (in terms of design and resources, etc.) are needed. And every building project would incur different problems and thus the process would be unique in nature.

      2) Sorry, without further context, I cannot explain what “Temporary nature refers to Project engangement” is. For “project can create a product that can be component of another item”. or capability to perform a service, this means that the deliverable of a project can be used in another project/operation/service (e.g. a project to build a production machine to produce disposable cups).

      Wish you PMP success!

  12. Lavanya says:

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful study material! Very helpful for my pmp preparation..passed pmp in first attempt..

    • Edward Chung says:

      Congratulations Lavanya! This should be your greatest X’mas gift. Would you like to share more details of your PMP Exam lessons learned so that our fellow PMP Aspirants would benefit? Thanks in advance!

  13. matthew johnston says:

    glad i found this resource, has been invaluable study tool for brushing up on many pm terms

  14. Celene Gordon says:

    This is a great list of Vs’s, so useful thank you. I found the explanations very relatable and easy to understand. your illustration activity was also well received.

  15. Bahar Imanlou says:

    Thank you Edward! This is a great collection.

  16. Henry Gonzalez says:

    Edward, thank you very much for creating these pages. I especially found the “easily confused terms” very helpful in my study. I am taking the exam tomorrow and have printed out this page to help me do some last minute preps this afternoon.

  17. Jasper Lim says:

    Hi Edward,

    Your guide on “Easily Confused Terms” really helps with my PMP exam preparations. Thank you!

  18. Tony says:

    Wow, I have read only a third of the list of confusing terms and have learned a lot of key information that is not covered in several of the most recommended books including PMBOK. You communicate these concepts better than any source I have found. Thank you for the information!

  19. Andy says:

    Dear Edward Chung,

    after long time I am commenting on some other folks blog..I think you didn’t educated your brain, you educated your Soul…”, when I am reading the articles, this reflects on.

    • Edward Chung says:

      Dear Andy,

      Thanks for your compliment. I am indeed an ordinary project manager who got lots of help from fellow PMP takers. That’s why I set up this website to organize PMP information in a systematic way to offer some assistance to fellow aspirants. Wish you PMP success!

  20. Varsha says:

    Hi Edward,

    appreciate your nice work on PMP most confusing terms.
    I have few more Terms in which I have confusion could you please help to clarify. Thanks.

    1. Avoid Risk & Accept Risk (with Example).
    2. Administrative Closure & Project/Phase closure & Procurement closure (sequence and steps).

    Many Thanks
    Varsha (Singapore)

  21. Sumit K says:

    Hi Edward, Great work. I am confused between “Project Team directory” and “Responsibility Assignment Matrix”. Can you please help.

  22. Peter Turck says:

    Hey Edward….just passed my PMP exam…exceeded target…your articles were both informative and encouraging and I thank you very much for taking the time to out this information out there.

    Best Regards
    Peter Turck, PMP!!!!!

  23. Raj says:

    Hi Edward,

    Great job! This is really a good source to fill the gaps. It’s really helping me a lot in my preparation for PMP exam. Thanks!

  24. Chele Co says:

    Hi Edward,

    Thank you for this page on detailing out the differences on the confusing terms. They have certainly proved very helpful and it was exactly what I was looking for while preparing for the exam.

    I am happy to report that I passed the PMP exam on first try!

    • Edward Chung says:

      Thrilled to learn that you have passed the PMP Exam in first try. You should be very proud of yourself! If you find my sharing here useful, please help to spread the words so that others can benefit from the website. Thanks!

  25. Asif Suleman says:

    Dear Edward
    your study material looks very productive for me .Also kindly advised me how can i get mock up questions approximately 2000 to 3000 no for exam preperation
    I appeared for my PMP exam on 5th July 2017 but failed though i study well and got 75 % on mock up exam (Rita Mulchy) and i was very much sure i will pass the exam but failed. I was almost planning not to go for second attempt soon but my friends advised me to use your material for study

    • Edward Chung says:

      Perhaps you have encountered very difficult questions last time. Don’t give up. Try again and hope to hear your good news soon!

      Wish you PMP success!

  26. Shaurya Jain says:

    This is a fantastic resource. I loved the way you paired and explained the confusing terms. Really a great help.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with other aspirants.

    Keep up the good work!!!

  27. Savita Bhan says:

    Hello Edward,
    Thank you for all the helpful documents. Your explanation is very simple, to the point and easily understandable. Wonderful way to contribute toward PM community.
    Keep up the good work.

    Savita (from India)

  28. Luong Minh Hai says:

    Hi Mr. Edward. Thank you so much for sharing PMP experience to us. Your website is actually huge resource for who intent to take PMP examination (include me in this year). I think “47 PMP Easily Confused Terms w/w In-depth Explanation” topic is very useful and I wonder if you have PDF version for this area for everyone can download and print to refer is better. Thank you!

    • Edward Chung says:

      Thanks for your encouragement. I will be making this resource when I have time. I hope my website can really help fellow PMP Aspirants in their exam journey. Please stay tuned.

      • Luong Minh Hai says:

        I’ll continue to follow your website for improving my career. Please help us by the more sharing Mr. Edward 🙂