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Kaplan vs Princeton Review GRE
A thorough side-by-side comparison of the Kaplan and Princeton Review GRE prep courses
When it comes to GRE prep, Kaplan and Princeton Review are similar in a number of ways. They both offer tried and true formulas for prepping students built on live classes, pre-recorded video lessons, practice work, and analytics. So, when the two courses you’re considering are as similar as Kaplan and Princeton Review, how do you choose? We help you make an informed decision in this detailed comparison between two of the most popular GRE courses.
To truly understand the differences between the GRE prep courses from Princeton Review and Kaplan, it’s important to first review the different study materials and features that each offers. So with that in mind, let’s discuss what Kaplan has to offer and the major highlights of their GRE courses.
Kaplan Course Options & Pricing
Kaplan offers students three different course options, which generally differ by format:
Tutoring + On Demand
As you may suspect, the price of each prep package generally goes up with the level of interaction and instruction provided. As such, the On Demand course option is the most affordable and can generally be found for around $450.
The Live Online course includes scheduled live classes, where you meet regularly with your instructor and other students in a virtual classroom for lessons. This course runs for about $1,000.
Finally, Kaplan’s Tutoring + On Demand course starts around $2,300, and includes between 1o to 40 hours of private one-on-one tutoring.
Overall, the courses from Kaplan are more affordable than those from Princeton Review. You’ll likely save anywhere from $50 to $200 by opting to go with Kaplan. That being said, I would just note that Kaplan’s courses are still more expensive than the courses from Magoosh and Achievable.
Better Video Lessons
Moving over to the actual course features, Kaplan’s online video lessons are undeniably top-notch, and a huge factor in why they land on our best GRE prep courses list.
The 40+ hours of online lessons are carried out with a Kaplan instructor who appears onscreen and provides some traditional classroom-style instruction.
However, rather than writing on an old whiteboard with their back to you, there is a digital whiteboard behind the instructor that follows along with the lesson and dynamically rolls through text, notes and graphics.
In addition, the Kaplan instructor periodically picks up a marker and writes notes onscreen in an eye-catching illuminous ink. They work practice problems right in front of you and break down concepts as they go.
The production value is super high-quality, and the mixed media approach to teaching makes for an incredibly effective experience (the video lessons from Manhattan Prep GRE are like this as well).
Not to mention, the instructors themselves are rock solid. They have a real knack for breaking down complex topics into understandable chunks, and when combined with the digital effects and production quality, it makes for some very engaging video lessons that really hold your attention from beginning to end.
To be clear, Princeton Review’s video lectures are good in their own right, but our team gives the edge to Kaplan when it comes to on-demand video lessons.
This is one of the biggest selling points of the Kaplan courses. Essentially, Kaplan’s GRE channel features supplemental live lessons that dive deep into specific GRE topics, testing strategies, and question types. And the lessons are offered almost on a daily basis.
Plus, even if you can’t make the live sessions, the recordings are converted into on-demand videos that you can watch later on your own time.
What’s also nice about the Kaplan GRE channel is that you can use filters to find videos based on subject, difficulty rating, and even individual instructors.
All in all, our team was super impressed with the Kaplan GRE channel. We think it’s one of the most helpful resources/tools in the entire GRE prep space, especially if you’re having trouble with a specific concept or testing strategy.
GRE Prep Books
Another area where we were impressed is with Kaplan’s course books. Kaplan offers some awesome prep books to accompany their course which supplement the core curriculum. These printed books are crazy detailed and we were big fans.
In fact, these books are almost too detailed (with almost being the key word there). Depending on your perspective, this can be a good or bad thing, but for those students looking for max study material, this is going to be a blessing.
If you’re pressed for time in your studies, I’d recommend a little skimming/speed reading. That method worked well for me and seemed to be an efficient use of the books in combination with the digital course. Either way, these books are packed with info.
When combined with the online lesson work and live classes, the books make for a really powerful learning combo. The Princeton Review prep books are solid in their own right, generally tracking with the live lessons and offering well-written strategies, but in our opinion, Kaplan’s books are superior.
Plus, it’s worth noting that Kaplan provides hardcopy prep books with their entry-level, on-demand course, whereas Princeton Review does not. That’s an important point.
Content Access Period
Kaplan offers a longer content access period than Princeton Review (6 months vs 120 days). This might seem trivial, but can be important for those studying while working.
If you plan on taking the GRE multiple times, or if you need to extend your studying over a longer period of time, take note of this.
Now that you have a better understanding of what Kaplan has to offer, let’s turn the tables and discuss the major advantages of using Princeton Review to help you prepare for the GRE.
Princeton Review Course Options & Pricing
While the Kaplan course options generally differ by course format, the Princeton Review prep packages generally differ by level of content and instruction. Princeton offers four prep options:
GRE 10 Points+
The Self-Paced course is Princeton Review’s budget option, offering on demand, online only learning for around $500. There are no live classes and fewer practice questions.
One level up from that is the GRE 10 Points+ course, which, as its name implies, guarantees a score of at least 10 points better after using the course. This is also an on demand, self-study package, but contains more content than the base level Self-Paced course. It costs $900.
The Fundamentals course is Princeton’s flagship GRE offering and gives students approximately 24 hours of live instruction. This course is most comparable to Kaplan’s Live Online course and prices out slightly higher at roughly $1,200.
Finally, Princeton offers something Kaplan doesn’t – the GRE 162+. This course format is aimed at students seeking top tier scores to get into elite graduate programs. It focuses primarily on the math section of the GRE, as most students find that portion of the exam most difficult, but also covers verbal in detail as well.
This option offers 45 live class hours and an extra 500 or so practice problems over the Fundamentals course. It runs in the neighborhood of $2,400 and should be strongly considered by those students targeting a top 5%-10% score.
Princeton Review GRE Coursework
Moving over to the substantive course material, Princeton Review’s lessons are a lot like Kaplan’s. Both offer first-rate video instruction with similar methodologies.
For example, Kaplan instructors use a marker with luminous ink to work problems right before the viewer, while Princeton instructors use a dry erase marker on a plate of invisible glass between the student viewers and teacher to work out their practice questions and write notes.
The two deliveries are eerily similar, and both really effective.
But where Princeton Review stands out is their more robust course structure within modules. Princeton employs a repeated structure of Essentials > Lessons > Drills.
They start each module with a quick video lesson or two on the foundational principles of the subject, which helps students to establish a baseline knowledge.
They then jump into a highly developed and repeated lesson structure where they provide video instruction followed by practice problems and a wrap up summary to recap the lesson.
The module is then finished off with a series of adaptive drills that hammer home the concepts just learned. When looked at as a whole, the entire lesson plan and coursework is quite impressive.
While the lesson quality and topics covered are almost identical between the two test prep companies, the Princeton Review course structure just feels more robust than Kaplan’s curriculum, and out team loved it. It’s got a great flow and is super easy to follow.
Even though Princeton Review provides more GRE practice problems than Kaplan, it’s not just about volume and we thought the quality of their problems is also on point.
These are clearly expertly designed problems that provide solid replication of real GRE questions, and in our team’s opinion, are slightly more realistic of real problems than Kaplan’s.
GRE Practice Tests
Princeton Review also beats Kaplan when it comes to number of practice tests.
Princeton offers 8 full-length simulated exams while Kaplan offers 7. I know some of you are reading that thinking, “c’mon, that’s just one more.”
But the truth is that every practice test counts when you have access to less than 10 in total.
If this were LSAT prep with every prep company offering 80+ practice tests, I’d be a lot less concerned.
But with so few practice exams available, these small things can make a difference, particularly to those students that prefer to learn by doing.
So if you are one of those students looking to maximize the number of tests you get, think Princeton.
And again, Princeton Review also offers more practice questions than Kaplan, providing a little over 3,500 practice problems (Princeton also offers more practice questions than competitor Magoosh).
With respect to quality of practice tests and problems though, both Princeton Review and Kaplan offer rock solid practice, and it is somewhat hard to differentiate between the two. Some other GRE courses we’ve reviewed clearly offer less realistic practice material, but not these two companies.
They both use high-end digital platforms for their test taking and adaptive technology that mirrors the real GRE. We couldn’t really find a true winner on this aspect.
Live GRE Classes
Princeton Review also wins when it comes to live classes. To be crystal clear, we are not referring to quality when we say that. The fact is the live GRE classes from both companies are very good (honestly, probably two of the best in the entire GRE prep space).
They both feature strong instructors, insightful lessons and strategies, and modern online digital classrooms.
Instead, our team gives Princeton Review the win because of their different class options and higher volume of instruction.
With Kaplan, you really only have one choice. You get access seven, three hour class sessions for 21 hours of total live instruction. In contrast, with Princeton Review, you’ve got some options. For example, their Fundamentals course includes 24 hours of live instruction, which is obviously more than Kaplan.
Alternatively, you can opt for Princeton Review’s GRE 162+ course, which includes 45 hours of live instruction.
In short, if you’re the type of student who learns best via live instruction so you can interact with your peers and instructors, or you simply need a set schedule to help hold yourself accountable, Princeton Review is likely the way to go.
GRE Score Guarantees
The next win for Princeton Review are their score guarantees. Specifically, I’m referring to their 10 Points Plus, 162 Plus and 165 Plus Tutoring courses, which guarantee that you will improve your score by at least 10 points, or score at least 162 or 165 on the GRE, respectively, or you get your money back.
For reference, Kaplan doesn’t offer these types of guarantees, even for their intensive On-Demand + Tutoring package.
Therefore, if you’re eyeing an elite score and admission to a top tier graduate program, then Princeton Review offers some nice course options to help get you there.
That being said, these guarantees don’t come cheap. For example, the company’s 162 Plus course is about $1,200 more than its flagship Fundamentals course. Plus, there is some fine print behind the guarantee that you should check out prior to purchasing.
Still, it’s pretty awesome if you’re looking for some insurance. Most companies in the GRE prep space, including Kaplan, only offer a “higher score” guarantee.
Bonus GRE Resources
Our team also likes the extra resources that Princeton Review offers its students. For example, we are big fans of Princeton Review’s Vocabulary Hit Parade, which is a supplemental workbook that covers the most commonly seen terms on the exam (i.e. the “hits”).
Having a good grasp on testable vocabulary is absolutely essential to performing well on the verbal section of the GRE, as many of the questions turn on less commonly used words, so this is a nice bonus resource.
All in all, it’s a very difficult decision between these two companies, and we don’t think you can really go wrong either way at the end of the day. Ultimately, we think the decision here boils down your budget and learning style.
If you’re on a budget or if you’re more of a visual learner, then Kaplan is the way to go given their approachable price points, engaging video lessons, and supplemental GRE channel. They have an amazing on demand study package.
On the flip side, if you are more of a practice-oriented learner, or you’re looking for some stellar score guarantees, then Princeton Review is certainly a viable option. We like their live class packages a lot.
With all of that being said though, if we had to pick just one, we’d probably lean towards Kaplan.
Which GRE prep course costs more – Kaplan or Princeton Review?
The Kaplan and Princeton Review GRE prep courses are in roughly the same price range, though Princeton Review’s courses are a bit more expensive. However, check for coupons as both companies regularly run sales and special promotions.
What’s the biggest difference between the Princeton Review and Kaplan GRE prep courses?
While both courses are extremely similar in many ways, the main difference between the Princeton Review and Kaplan GRE prep courses is that Princeton Review provides more practice tests and live instruction, while Kaplan offers stellar on-demand video lessons.
Do both Princeton Review and Kaplan have score increase money back guarantees?
Yes. Both Kaplan and Princeton Review each offer guarantees of your money back if you don’t score better after using their GRE prep course.