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Kaplan vs Princeton Review GMAT
A thorough comparison of the GMAT prep courses from Kaplan and Princeton Review
As you begin your quest to find the perfect prep course to help you gear up for your upcoming GMAT, test prep behemoths Kaplan and Princeton Review might be the first to appear on your radar. But how will you ever choose between them when both have hours upon hours of video lessons, thousands of practice problems, and extensive GMAT curriculums? This comparison guide will give you a closer look at the study materials offered by both companies to help you narrow it down and select the best course for your GMAT prep.
Given this is a lengthy, detailed comparison, we’ve included jump-to links above for your convenience. You may also want to check out our list of the best GMAT prep courses on the market before you start studying.
Like Kaplan, Princeton Review offers three different prep options. The first, like Kaplan’s, is a self-paced asynchronous online course priced at about $800. The second is their Fundamentals course, and costs roughly $1,400. Finally, the top level is the GMAT 700+, pricing out at around $1,900. Each level offers over 50 hours of video instruction. The Fundamentals course offers 27 hours of live class instruction, while the 700+ level offers 47 hours of live instruction.
With the Self-Paced and Fundamentals courses, you will have access to over 3,000 practice questions. Even more practice questions are included with the GMAT 700+, where you will see more than 4,400. All three course options offer 10 full-length practice exams.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication
Quality Of Princeton Review Study Materials
Princeton’s study materials are detailed and of high quality, with their curriculum broken down according to the various sections of the GMAT. Each section includes sub-modules that cover topics covered on the test, and they leave nothing out. In fact, the topics covered are so comprehensive that I was a little overwhelmed at first.
Still, between thorough video lessons, highly detailed explanations of every problem to help you understand your weak areas, and powerful adaptive test-taking drills, you’ll get a great deal of information to get you prepared. I wasn’t thrilled with the overall quality of the video lessons, and there are no on-screen instructors to give you that face-to-face feeling. Rather, lessons are taught using slides with voice-overs. That’s not necessarily bad, but for me, this type of delivery did not hold my attention. Don’t get me wrong, the actual content is extensive. I simply found it difficult to remain focused.
The suite of more than 3,000 practice problems allows you to create your own customized exams, or you can let the system optimize one for you based on your performance. The practice exams are computer adaptive, just like the real test, so you’ll get a close approximation of the test experience. The full practice tests are set up to mirror the official GMAT, right down to the look and feel of the digital interface, with dead-on questions that closely mimic the questions on the real test in terms of structure and content. I liked that after each test, I received a detailed breakdown of my performance so I could concentrate my efforts on areas where I needed the most work.
Finally, the print GMAT prep books that come with Princeton Review’s GMAT courses come straight from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) itself, which means you have access to the most authoritative source on what you need to know. These books are valuable resources, and I liked knowing that I was studying with official practice questions. It should be noted though, that these books don’t always fit hand in hand with the Princeton Review curriculum, so I wouldn’t recommend them as your only resource. They are a great supplement resource but I think they would be best used in conjunction with Princeton Review’s practice questions and materials.
Course Highlight: Live Instruction
If the video lessons leave something to be desired, the live instruction classes make up for it tenfold. First of all, Princeton Review’s live courses are unique in that they are offered in addition to their online content. Each instructor has more than 37 hours of training, and they have all been top GMAT scorers. This makes them top-notch instructors who are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do.
For me, the ability to interact with the instructor and ask questions during the lesson was worth the added cost for the live instruction. I liked the exchanges that I was able to have with my teacher and classmates. At first, I was a little apprehensive about my instructor. She started off ultra-professional, and left a standoffish impression. It wasn’t long though, before she let down her guard and loosened up a bit. Ultimately, I really felt that she wanted us to do well and the exam, and did everything she could to prepare us.
In my opinion, these online instruction sessions make it well worth upgrading to the mid-level course, at least for your Princeton review prep. It’s worthwhile to have these lessons as an added benefit to the rest of the top-notch resources to which the program offers access.
The Kaplan GMAT Prep courses are offered in three different formats. The first is a self-paced asynchronous course that costs about $600. This course is entirely online and allows you to take the lessons at your own pace. The second is a live online course that costs around $1,250. This course offers a comprehensive set of classwork and materials and is conducted just like a normal class but is entirely online. Finally, there’s a live, in-person option weighing in at around $1,400. This version is exactly like a normal college class, which you’ll attend in person in a traditional classroom.
The first two courses offer over 44 hours of video instruction and over 5,000 practice questions, while the in-person version offers 4,000-plus practice questions. The live online course gives you 18 hours of live interactive webinar-type sessions, while the in-person version offers over 35 full online lessons and 27 hours of live, in-person classes.
It’s worth noting that the live, in-person courses are offered via a partnership with Manhattan Prep. As a result, you’re live in-person lessons are taught by Manhattan Prep and you get access to Manhattan Prep’s materials and coursework instead of Kaplan’s, so if you are looking specifically for Kaplan’s course materials, this live option may not be the best choice for you. That said, the materials offered by Manhattan Prep are detailed and extensive and should not be overlooked in terms of their effectiveness and value.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication
Evaluation Of The Kaplan GMAT Coursework
Kaplan’s coursework is presented through their online GMAT portal and is divided up according to the four sections of the GMAT exam. Modules within each section cover the various topics you’ll encounter, from algebra to sentence construction, with each module broken down further into lessons and sub-lessons. I found the lessons to be extremely high in quality, with the use of a virtual whiteboard to illustrate concepts. The teachers are enthusiastic and charismatic, often offering little anecdotes or mnemonics. Often, these tools are delivered in a comical fashion, which I really liked, as it broke up the monotony and actually helped with my retention of the material covered.
At the end of each class, you’ll get a quiz to test what you’ve learned. With each question, Kaplan provides a detailed breakdown of the proper answer and a full analysis of your response so you can more fully understand why your answers were either correct or incorrect, enabling you to better learn from your mistakes. Occasionally I felt that some answer explanations were a little skimpy in the area of details. Don’t get me wrong, they were clear and concise, and effective in serving their purpose. I would just like a little more details, perhaps with an occasional illustration, diagram, or video snippet for clarification.
Kaplan also offers full-length practice tests. These tests are created by experts who have taken and mastered the GMAT and are created in conjunction with GMAC (the Graduate Management Admission Council), so they’re as close as they come to what you’ll see on test day. Both online versions, live and on demand, offer 9 full-length tests, and the in-person live course offers 6 full-length tests. Additionally, all come with a hard copy of the Kaplan study book, which I believe to be one of the best on the market.
If there’s a downside, it’s that the live, in-person course offers fewer video hours and fewer practice tests. If you are like me, however, the accountability factor and structure that come with the live course, as well as the in-person interaction with an instructor and classmates, more than compensates for the fewer video hours and practice exams. Conversely, the asynchronous version doesn’t offer live, real-time interaction with an instructor, but provides a bit more in the number of study materials, as well as the ability to work at your own pace. In the end, it all comes down to what works best for your particular learning style.
Course Highlight: Massive Amount of Study Material
The biggest advantage of the Kaplan GMAT Prep is in the massive amount of comprehensive study materials it includes. As previously mentioned, with either of the computer-based options you get access to more than 5,000 practice problems, 9 full-length practice tests that precisely mimic the format and questions of the GMAT, and over 44 hours of video instruction. Quite simply, the sheer volume of materials provided by Kaplan is so enormous that it would take you weeks of studying full time to get through it all. Yes, there is that much. With Kaplan, you will never have a shortage of GMAT prep materials.
I love that Kaplan’s GMAT prep courses come with a couple of hardcopy books. I’m one of those learners who thrive with a real book in my hand. While I can’t bring myself to bend or write on the pages, I often use tabs to mark the pages I want to revisit. There is just something special about a real book. In any case, I find the quality of Kaplan’s books to be excellent. They are well written, comprehensive, and deliver information in an easy-to-digest format.
So, which is better for your GMAT prep, Princeton Review or Kaplan? Choosing between the two is difficult, especially when considering the similarities in their course components and features. As with any comparison, things aren’t black and white, as each excels in different areas. I hope my analysis has proven helpful in your hunt of the perfect GMAT prep course. In case you are still on the fence, here is a recap:
Pricing – Tie. When it comes to pricing, the edge clearly goes to Kaplan. Kaplan’s price points at each level of instruction are more affordable. In fact, Kaplan’s top-level live, in-person course costs about the same as Princeton’s mid-level Fundamentals course. With that said, Princeton Review does seem to offer more discounts so depending on timing, Princeton Review may actually end up being the more affordable choice.
Study Materials – Edge: Kaplan. Mostly equal in terms of the comprehensive study materials provided, it all came down to the video lessons. The edge goes to Kaplan. Lessons are delivered by enthusiastic teachers in videos that are of exceptional quality.
Classes & Live Instruction – Edge: Princeton Review. Though Kaplan’s live lessons get the job done, when it comes to live video classes, Princeton Review takes the edge here. Taught by highly skilled instructors, their live classes are engaging and highly effective in delivering the content needed to pass the exam.
GMAT Prep Books – Tie. Both companies provide helpful, high-quality prep books to supplement their online coursework. At the end of the day, there is no clear winner in this category.
Practice Tests – Edge: Princeton Review. This was a tough choice, but ultimately the edge goes to Princeton Review. Not only does Princeton Review have more practice tests, but their practice test questions are more accurate in representing the questions you will likely see on test day.
User Experience – Edge: Princeton Review. This was another close call, but Princeton Review edges out Kaplan here too. The intuitive structure of the learning platform is straightforward, making it user friendly and extremely easy to navigate.
Content Access Period – Edge: Kaplan. In terms of content access, the edge is all Kaplan. Princeton gives access to any of its three levels for 120 days, while Kaplan gives you access for six months at the base level, for the full length of the course at the middle level and for the length of the course plus three months at the top level.
When it’s all said and done, both Kaplan and Princeton Review offer outstanding GMAT courses with comprehensive resources and top-notch prep materials. If you want more information, check out our researched analysis of the Best GMAT Prep Courses here.
How much do the Kaplan and Princeton Review GMAT prep courses cost?
The GMAT prep options from Kaplan range in price from around $600 for their self-paced course to about $1,400 for their most intensive program. Princeton Review’s GMAT prep courses start at about $800 for their self-paced plan and increase up to around $1,900 for their highest GMAT 700+ program.
What is the biggest difference between the Kaplan and Princeton Review courses?
Generally speaking, the GMAT prep plans are quite similar. Their differences all come down to the delivery of instruction. Kaplan’s excels with their high-quality video lessons, while Princeton Review’s strength lies in their live class instruction.
Do the Kaplan and Princeton Review GMAT courses come with prep books?
Yes, both prep courses include prep books that we found to be high-quality and helpful.