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Magoosh vs Kaplan GRE
Our detailed comparison of the Magoosh and Kaplan GRE prep courses
As far as GRE prep courses go, there may not be any two courses more different than Magoosh and Kaplan. Kaplan is the tried and true, old school test prep company with live classes and hardcopy books, while Magoosh is the upstart with low price points and a flexible, digital first teaching approach. So how do you choose when the two courses you’re considering are as vastly different as Kaplan and Magoosh? We take a close look at both prep packages in this guide and give you a side-by-side view so that you can make the right decision on which is best for you.
The Magoosh GRE course offerings are simple and straightforward. They offer two packages:
1 Month Premium GRE Course
6 Month Premium GRE Course
That’s it. Really. While Kaplan and other test prep companies offer 3+ course packages with varying formats, different levels of accessible practice problems, and other features, the two Magoosh prep packages are exactly the same, with the lone difference being the access period. One course gives you 1 month of access to their online content, while the other gives you 6 months. Other than that, you are getting the same study material and resources.
The 1 Month Premium course runs around $149, while the 6 Month Premium course can almost always be found in the ballpark of $179 (their website says normally $894, but we’ve never seen that price actually charged).
In direct comparison with Kaplan’s course pricing, Magoosh is the CLEAR winner. Even their more expensive 6 Month Premium course is less than one-half the cost of the comparable Kaplan self-paced option.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Magoosh Lessons and Study Materials
Unlike Kaplan’s traditional method of test prep with live classes, hardcopy prep books and take-home assignments, Magoosh takes a different approach. Rather than having a robust core curriculum that is followed in a linear fashion, Magoosh gives you a library of lessons to choose from. To be clear, they do offer a suggested order of viewing video lessons and taking follow-up quizzes, but it is not nearly as developed as Kaplan’s course.
You are free to jump ahead, go back, or just pick your topics at random depending on where you need work. It is a much more laissez-faire approach to studying. However, while the lesson work is more freewheeling, the content is all there. Every topic necessary for the GRE is covered, and covered well. The video lessons, while short in length and of average production quality, are effective. The instructors are clearly very knowledgeable and do a great job breaking down even complex subject matter. All in all, we were impressed with the video instruction given the low price point.
In addition to the video lessons, Magoosh offers over 1,200 practice problems and 3 full-length practice tests. Obviously this doesn’t stand up toe-to-toe with Kaplan’s numbers, but these are still respectable amounts nonetheless. And the quality of these practice questions and tests are clearly not impacted by the budget price – we found the practice work to be right on par Kaplan’s. For those students not needing as many practice questions, the Magoosh study materials may be all you need.
Custom Practice Sessions
One of Magoosh’s premier features is their custom practice function. You can generate personalized quizzes broken down by question type, difficulty, number of questions, and much more. This was one of our team’s favorite aspects of the Magoosh course and helped boost it onto our best GRE prep courses list. It is an extremely beneficial tool that allows students the chance to focus their work on areas where they need improvement.
While this type of feature is not unique to Magoosh – in fact, Kaplan has one also – it is worth noting that you get some of the same cool features with Magoosh as you do with Kaplan for a fraction of the price. Despite the cost difference, you get very similar tools of comparable quality.
The final attribute of the Magoosh GRE course worth highlighting in this comparison is their user experience. Although clearly outgunned by Kaplan with respect to resources, Magoosh still manages to put out a digital platform with an incredibly user-friendly interface and sleek user experience. The design around their online content is easy-to-use, aesthetically appealing and very snappy. We were quite impressed with their user experience overall given their value pricing.
Kaplan offers a much greater selection of course options as compared to Magoosh. They give you three different GRE prep packages to choose from, as follows:
The differentiating factor among the Kaplan course options is the format. Every student learns differently, so Kaplan gives you a choice as to which way you want to take their prep course. On that point, the core curriculum across all three prep packages is more or less the same – it is just the delivery format that changes. You’ll either get the instruction in person in a face-to-face class, online via a live lecture, or at your own leisure through self-paced study. The content is the same, it is just the way you consume it that is varied.
In terms of pricing, it’s no secret that Kaplan’s GRE offerings cost more than Magoosh’s. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. That is not to imply that Magoosh’s study materials and resources are of poorer quality. Rather, we simply say that to emphasize that you get more study materials and higher production value video lessons, along with a more robust and developed course curriculum, with Kaplan. In a lot of ways, comparing Kaplan and Magoosh is kind of like comparing apples and oranges.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
The Kaplan Lessons and Coursework
The Kaplan video lessons are top of the line in terms of both production quality and depth of coverage. While Magoosh’s video lessons consist of a PowerPoint-type slideshow with a voiceover and onscreen notes, the Kaplan video lessons are much more advanced. The Kaplan instructor appears onscreen before a digital whiteboard which follows the teacher’s lesson and updates frequently to visualize concepts, issues and problems.
Then, to mix up the instruction, the teacher will grab a marker from time to time and handwrite notes in a luminous ink write in front of them, exemplifying how a concept plays out in the form of a problem or question. The dynamic and interactive delivery of lessons makes for an incredibly engaging experience. These lessons cover the same topics as Magoosh’s videos, but go into much more depth and the production quality is night and day.
To complement the high-quality lessons, Kaplan provides students access to over 5,000 practice problems through both its in-module quizzes and its QBank. The QBank is a tool very similar to the Magoosh custom practice session and allows users the ability to create personalized practice problem sets. And accompanying each of the 5,000+ practice problems, you’re given access to a succinct, but highly effective problem explanation. Overall, Kaplan’s lesson instruction and coursework are exceptional and have a clear edge over Magoosh’s materials.
In addition to some superb video lessons and coursework, Kaplan also offers live class instruction and hardcopy prep books. These are two features you just won’t get with Magoosh. But it’s not just as simple as Kaplan has these things and Magoosh doesn’t – Kaplan also does both extremely well. Their instructors are all incredibly knowledgeable with respect to GRE exam concepts and highly trained to deliver that content in an easily understandable fashion.
For students that prefer in-person learning, whether because they want face-to-face time with a live teacher, like group participation and engagement, or just plain need the commitment that comes with a live class, you’re not going to beat Kaplan. In addition, Kaplan’s course books are unparalleled. They provide extraordinary detail on just about every topic covered on the GRE, as well as a host of practice problems and drills. Again, this is something that you just can’t get with Magoosh. So if you’re a fan of printed textbooks when learning, this is going to be another check in the Kaplan column.
Magoosh and Kaplan are very different prep courses, and hopefully this comparison has given you a good sense of where their primary differences lie. But if you still need a bit more info to help you make the final decision one way or the other, here is our quick and dirty summary:
Study Materials – Between these two test prep rivals, Kaplan takes the cake when it comes to quality and quantity of study material. Their video lessons, practice problems and explanations, live classes, drills, books and other resources simply can’t be matched. Kaplan delivers a mountain of high-quality study content. That said, Magoosh does hold its own. While obviously offering less study material in terms of quantity, Magoosh still provides students with excellent video lessons covering all the necessary topics, as well as 1,200+ practice problems with top end video explanations, and some cool resources to boot.
Price – This category also has a clear winner – Magoosh. At a fraction of Kaplan’s course cost, Magoosh is the obvious value pick in terms of pricing. With their most expensive prep package coming in at around $180, that price point can’t be beaten.
Classes and Books – If you’re looking for a live classroom experience or printed study books, your only choice is to go with Kaplan, as Magoosh doesn’t offer such features. But assuming you’re looking for a course with online only content, both Magoosh and Kaplan each offer formidable digital lessons and coursework.
Practice Tests – Edge: Kaplan. Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with Magoosh’s practice tests or their testing platform, we have to give the edge to Kaplan based on quantity alone. It’s as simple as 7 beats 3.
User Experience and Interface – Despite the disparity in price, we rate this as a tie between the two courses, and even had internal disagreement over which companies’ interface was better. That is probably telling that user experience and interface is a pretty subjective facet of any course, but we can say with certainty that both of these courses pass muster on this front.
Extra Resources – While both prep courses offer a fairly standard suite of resources, Kaplan likely gets the edge here for its “test day experience” feature. This exclusive add-on gives each Kaplan student the opportunity to sit for one of their seven practice exams at a Prometric test center, just like they will on test day. This is a very valuable resource that you just don’t get with Magoosh.
Online Content Access Period – Assuming you purchase Magoosh’s 6 Month Premium course (most students do), you will get the same duration of user access across both prep courses. Kaplan and Magoosh each give you 6 months of access to their online content, which is plenty of time to study for the GRE.
Refund Policy and Score Guarantees – Both companies provide score increase guarantees and a general refund policy. Read the fine print for the technical details on the score increase guarantee, as each varies slightly, but the main difference here is that Magoosh gives you 7 days to kick the tires on their course, while Kaplan only gives you 3 days to get 100% of your money back. Apart from that small difference in refund window, both companies have generous money back policies.
Which GRE prep course costs more – Kaplan or Magoosh?
The Kaplan GRE prep courses cost more than the Magoosh prep courses. Looking at the closest comparable prep packages (Magoosh’s 6 Month Premium course and Kaplan’s Self-Paced course), Kaplan costs roughly 2.5x as much at around $450. That said, Kaplan offers more in-depth study material than Magoosh.
What’s the main difference between Magoosh and Kaplan GRE prep courses?
The primary difference between Magoosh and Kaplan GRE prep courses is that Kaplan offers live classes and hardcopy prep books, while Magoosh is online only with re-recorded lessons.
Which company provides more study material, Kaplan or Magoosh?
Kaplan offers more study material than Magoosh. While Magoosh provides students a respectable 1,200 practice problems and 3 full-length practice tests, Kaplan offers 5,000+ questions and 7 practice tests.