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Kaplan vs Princeton Review GMAT
A thorough comparison of the GMAT prep courses from Princeton Review and Kaplan (now Manhattan Prep)
About a decade ago, Kaplanacquired Manhattan Prep, a test prep company with a major GMAT emphasis. However, rather than folding Manhattan’s offerings into their own, Kaplan let them operate as a standalone entity with separate courses. That was, until now. Just recently, Kaplan has folded their GMAT course into Manhattan Prep’s, giving them a more robust combined course. We take a look in this post at how this new combined Manhattan Prep/Kaplan course stacks up with its biggest rival: Princeton Review.
Given this is a lengthy, detailed comparison, we’ve included jump-to links above for your convenience.
Video: Kaplan GMAT or Princeton Review?
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team directly compares the GMAT prep courses from Princeton Review and Kaplan (Manhattan Prep), explaining how these prep options stack up. For more detail, be sure to continue reading our full, detailed comparison below.
To truly compare the GMAT prep courses from Princeton Review and Kaplan/Manhattan Prep, you must first understand all the different GMAT study materials and features that each company provides. As such, let’s start by covering what Princeton Review has to offer.
Princeton Review GMAT Options & Cost
Princeton Review offers three different prep options. The first, 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 $2,000.
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.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication
Quality Of Princeton Review GMAT Study Materials
Princeton’s study materials are detailed and 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.
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.
Princeton Review beats Kaplan in possibly the most important category – cost. If you compare the course options and their respective prices from both companies, you’re looking at around $200-$500 in savings total by opting to go with Princeton Review.
Advantage: GMAT Practice Tests
Princeton Review also beats Kaplan when it comes to practice tests. Again, this simply comes down to numbers. Princeton Review offers 10 computer-adaptive practice tests, whereas Kaplan only offers six.
I realize that a difference of four may not sound like a lot, but it is. After all, taking practice tests under exam like conditions, and then reviewing the results are often where students make the biggest gains, so having four additional opportunities with Princeton Review is in fact a big deal.
Advantage: Bonus Study Resources
Princeton Review also provides some pretty attractive bonus resources for students, including live office hours and email assistance from teachers.
In my opinion, both of these features are a nice safety net to have in case you don’t understand a specific concept or testing strategy, or you just get stuck on a practice problem. The fact that you are able to quickly email a GMAT tutor or log into an office hours session is definitely a major plus.
Advantage: GMAT Score Guarantees
Lastly, Princeton Review wins as far as score guarantees go. With the company’s Self-Paced and Fundamentals courses, students get a higher score guarantee or your money back (i.e. at least one point better).
However, with Princeton Review’s 700+ course, it includes what its name implies – a guarantee that you will score 700 or better on the GMAT or you get your money back, which is obviously a great option for students eyeing admission into a top 25 MBA or graduate program.
Now to be clear, these guarantees do come with some fine print, so be sure to check that out prior to purchasing, but for the most part, these are some of the best score guarantees in the GMAT space, especially considering Kaplan does not offer any sort of score guarantee with their courses.
Reasons To Choose Kaplan/Manhattan Prep For GMAT Prep
Now that you have a better sense for what Princeton Review has to offer, let’s turn the tables and discuss what the combination of Kaplan and Manhattan Prep bring to the table in terms of GMAT preparation.
Kaplan/Manhattan Prep GMAT Prep Options & Pricing
The Kaplan/Manhattan Prep GMAT Prep courses are offered in several different formats. Here are your options and pricing:
On Demand – $999
Advanced – $1,399
Live Online – $1,599
In-Person – $1,899
Bootcamp – $2,599
These packages all offer over 35 video lessons and over 4,000 practice questions, as well as access to a seven hour foundations of GMAT math workshop. And course, every option except for the On Demand and Advanced courses offer some degree of live classes.
Kaplan offers private GMAT tutoring packages as well in case you need more personalized instruction.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication
Evaluation Of The Kaplan/Manhattan Prep GMAT Coursework
Like Princeton Review, the study materials from Kaplan and Manhattan Prep are first-rate.
We particularly like the GMAT lessons from Kaplan and Manhattan Prep because they are interactive and adaptive. The lessons pause to ask you questions, adapt to your knowledge level on specific topics, and include funny little cartoons.
And one of the biggest reasons why their lessons are so effective is due to the high-quality nature of their videos. Unlike the video lessons from Princeton Review, the Kaplan/Manhattan Prep lessons actually feature an instructor on-screen.
Overall, we definitely prefer the Kaplan video lessons over those from Princeton Review (more information on that below).
Beyond the core lessons, Kaplan also provides over 4,000 practice problems that closely resemble the real exam. Working in the background, Kaplan uses a program called GMAT Navigator to track your progress and provide explanations to their GMAT practice problems.
The Navigator tool breaks down each practice problem and provides clear rationale for each answer choice. That said, our team thought the practice problem explanations from Princeton Review were better.
All in all though, our team was very impressed with the GMAT coursework from Kaplan, particularly their video-based lessons.
Advantage: Video Lessons
No question the highlight of the Kaplan GMAT courses are their video lessons. In my opinion, they are the best in the entire GMAT prep industry.
The video lessons take the form of a digital whiteboard with the instructor appearing on-screen, while notes and graphics appear around them. And the lessons will even pause from time to time to ensure you are paying attention and understand the concept being covered.
Plus, the way in which the Kaplan GMAT instructors convey the material really helps with retention. Anytime I was completing a practice test and came across a specific topic or concept, my mind was immediately drawn back to the graphics from the video lesson.
The substantive content covered in the lessons are also top-notch. They cover every topic and concept tested on the GMAT, and I like how the lessons build on one another.
Advantage: Live GMAT Classes
While we’re on the topic of visual learners, our team also gives the win to Kaplan when it comes live classes.
Now to be fair here, we have nothing bad to say about the live classes from Princeton Review – they are fantastic as well. However, the reason we give Kaplan the slight edge here is because they intentionally limit class sizes in order to maintain a healthy balance between personalized attention and active participation. It’s a very effective learning environment.
Plus, we are huge fans of the Kaplan instructors. They’re all 99th percentile scorers, and obviously know the GMAT like the back of their hand, but almost more important than that, they all do a really good job of using jokes and humor to make the video lessons and live class sessions fun and engaging.
Our team overall was just very impressed by the Kaplan instructors, and how they blend humor into their lesson plans.
Advantage: GMAT Prep Books
Our team also gives the edge to Kaplan when it comes to prep books. Now, to be clear, both Princeton Review and Kaplan provide their students a bundle of hardcopy prep books, and the books from both companies are top-notch. They are well-written and super thorough.
However, our team gives Kaplan the win because they better integrate their books into their courses and study plans. Whereas the Princeton Review prep books are more so used a bonus resource or complement to their courses.
Advantage: Content Access Period
The last win in favor of Kaplan is pretty simple – content access period. The Kaplan courses come with 6 months of access, whereas Princeton Review’s Self-Paced and Fundamentals courses only include 120 days of access.
As such, if you are a busy professional and need to spread your studying out over an extended period of time, or you plan on taking the GMAT multiple times, then this may push Kaplan over the edge for you.
However, ultimately, I think the decision here boils down your budget and learning style. I’d say if you are on a budget and you are more of a practice oriented learner (i.e. learn by doing), then Princeton Review is the way to go.
On the flip side, if you are more of a visual learner or you need a structured study plan, then I’d say Kaplan would be the choice with their engaging video lessons, and small group live classes.
That’s really what I recommend basing your decision off, but I guess if I had to choose just one, it would be Princeton Review purely based on price.
How much do the Kaplan and Princeton Review GMAT prep courses cost?
The GMAT prep options from Kaplan range in price from around $1,000 for their self-paced course up to about $2,600 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 $2,000 for their highest GMAT 700+ program.
What is the biggest difference between the Kaplan and Princeton Review courses?
Generally speaking, the GMAT prep plans from both companies are quite similar. Their differences all come down to the delivery of instruction. Kaplan excels with their high-quality video lessons, while Princeton Review excels with practice work.
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, detailed and helpful.