Test Prep Insight is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Magoosh vs Kaplan SAT & ACT
Our side-by-side comparison of the SAT & ACT prep courses from Kaplan and Magoosh
If you’re getting ready to start studying for the SAT or ACT and apply to college, one very difficult early decision is which prep course to go with. A lot of students and parents immediately turn to Kaplan to help them prep given that they are one of the biggest and most well-known prep companies around. However, after seeing Magoosh’s price tag and hearing good things, it often becomes a challenge trying to decide between these two prep giants. In this detailed comparison guide, we look at how their prep courses stack up head-to-head so that you can make an informed decision for your own study journey.
Given that this is a lengthy comparison guide, we’ve included a helpful jump-to table of contents for easy navigation.
Video Review: Magoosh Or Kaplan?
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team compares and contrasts the SAT and ACT prep courses from Magoosh and Kaplan. For more information, be sure to continue reading our full, written comparison below.
Why Kaplan Is Better Than Magoosh For SAT & ACT Prep
Studying for the SAT or ACT requires time and dedication so it’s extremely important you select the best prep course from the jump. Here are the main reasons why you or your child would want to go with Kaplan over Magoosh to help them prepare.
Quality of Coursework
Although Kaplan and Magoosh offer similar types of study materials in terms of practice questions and video lessons, our team prefers Kaplan’s integrated approach to learning with a curriculum woven around dynamic learning modules (similar to PrepScholar SAT/ACT).
Their study schedule and overall approach just has a far more cohesive feel to it compared to Magoosh. Not to mention, our team thinks Kaplan’s video lessons and live classes are superior to Magoosh’s as well.
Bottom line, we just think Kaplan’s instructors and the manner in which they teach the content is more effective.
As far as video lessons go, Kaplan blows Magoosh out of the water. Although Magoosh does offer MORE video lessons than Kaplan, the quality of Kaplan’s prerecorded video lectures cannot be disputed.
Whereas Magoosh takes a fairly dated PowerPoint-style approach to its videos, with an instructor voicing their lesson over slides and making notes, Kaplan’s videos are visually striking.
They feature your instructor onscreen in a studio set, and as they give their lesson the screen often cuts to a digital whiteboard or split screen that fills with notes, graphics and cool visuals.
Not only that, these videos are very casual and make you feel like a friend, with your instructor often sitting on a couch, working sample problems with an iPad and stylus.
Bottom line, Kaplan’s video lessons are hip, well-produced and contain awesome content.
Like the video lesson category above, this is a pretty easy win for Kaplan as well. And that’s mainly because Magoosh doesn’t provide prep books with their SAT and ACT prep courses.
It’s solid in its own right, but doesn’t match the full course, and is not provided with the full ACT package (i.e. it must be purchased separately).
Kaplan on the other hand offer students content-rich books with outline-style notes, sample problems to demonstrate points, and test taking strategies.
They are simply fantastic. However, I do just want to note that these books do not come with the cheaper Kaplan self-paced courses – those contain online content only.
This is a very interesting category to dub a winner. Historically, Magoosh only provided self-driven online content for students, but recently has rolled out new SAT and ACT live classes. So this now becomes a close race.
However, after auditing each company’s live classes, I would still give the nod to Kaplan.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Magoosh’s new live class framework and thought their instructors were awesome. You get 16 hours of engaging, helpful class time, but the class lesson plans just didn’t feel as fleshed out as Kaplan’s.
Both sets of instructors seemed equally knowledgeable and were great communicators, but I think Kaplan gets the edge here for having a slightly better class curriculum.
One of the most important aspects of prepping is taking practice tests under exam-like conditions. And in terms of quantity of practice tests, Kaplan gets the win.
They provide 8 SAT and 5 ACT exams to Magoosh’s 3 SAT and 4 ACT practice tests. It’s not a huge discrepancy, but it does matter since taking and reviewing practice tests are often where students make the biggest strides.
Now in terms of realism of practice questions and how well each company mimics the real exams, it’s hard to declare a winner.
We found both Magoosh and Kaplan to do an excellent job replicating SAT and ACT exam problems in terms of length, difficulty and content.
Digital Platform And User Experience
While I like the clean design and user friendliness of Magoosh’s platform, Kaplan gets a slight edge here for its overall production value.
It’s clear Kaplan has an army of developers and video editors fine tuning every aspect of their user interface. It’s just a really good digital platform.
This isn’t to imply Magoosh’s user experience is bad. In fact, I actually quite like it. But Kaplan’s is just better.
Why Magoosh Is Better Than Kaplan For SAT & ACT Prep
Now that we’ve covered the areas in which Kaplan beats Magoosh, let’s turn the tables and discuss the advantages of going with Magoosh for your SAT or ACT prep needs.
Magoosh’s Courses Are More Affordable
This is a pretty easy category to judge for anyone. Magoosh offers just about the best value in SAT and ACT prep. Their self-paced Premium course costs less than $130, while their Premium + Live Classes package goes for less than $400.
This is in comparison to Kaplan’s courses, which range from $200 all the way up to $2,000.
Practice Question Explanations
Although I already covered practice tests and practice questions earlier, it’s worth noting that Magoosh offers top-notch practice problem explanations and solutions. Let’s face it, taking a practice test is only half the battle.
Reviewing the problems you get wrong is where the real learning comes in. And what’s unique about Magoosh is that they offer both text AND video explanations for each problem.
For comparison purposes, Kaplan does not. They simply provide text explanations only. Therefore, if you’re a visual learner, you may prefer Magoosh since you’ll likely get more out of their practice question explanations.
Without a doubt, our team prefers the bonus resources from Magoosh. Even for the low price of just $130 or so, you get live chat support, TWO mobile apps, flashcards, and more.
I particularly liked Magoosh’s live support, where you can ask a Magoosh pro a question if you get hung up on a problem or need help. It’s not the same as tutoring, but still extremely beneficial.
This is all in direct contrast with Kaplan, which doesn’t offer much in this regard. In fact, Kaplan really lacks in this department, which is strange given their price point, and is one of the biggest complaints we had about the Kaplan SAT and ACT courses.
Content Access Period
It’s another pretty open and shut case for Magoosh when it comes to content access. When you buy the standard Magoosh package, you get access to their online materials for 12 months.
This is compared to Kaplan, who only offers 6 months of access. 6 months should be plenty of study time for most students, but still, it’s always better to have more.
Both companies offer higher score guarantees or your money back, which is great news. However, they do differ in terms of the degree of such guarantees.
While Kaplan simply provides a “higher score guarantee – meaning they guarantee you’ll score at least 1 point higher on the real exam after using their materials – Magoosh puts some numbers on their promise.
Specifically, Magoosh guarantees that students will see a score increase of at least 100 points on their SAT and 4 points on their ACT after using their course. Obviously, most people want the greater score guarantee, and that comes from Magoosh.
In this battle of SAT and ACT prep providers, it is a very close call. Magoosh certaintly makes a compelling case to beat Kaplan.
Not only are their courses extremely affordable, the study materials they include are also top-notch. Specifically, I’d call out Magoosh’s practice problem explanations, and all the extra resources they provide (i.e. email support).
However, with all of that said, I still think Kaplan offers the better SAT and ACT prep courses. Not only is Kaplan’s learning framework and curriculum superior, but Kaplan also beats Magoosh in terms of video lessons, live classes, and practice tests.
Therefore, unless you’re working with a limited budget, I’d go with Kaplan if you’re serious about scoring high on the SAT or ACT exam.
Which SAT review course is better, Magoosh or Kaplan?
Though our team rates each company’s SAT prep course out very highly, we ultimately think Kaplan offers the better overall prep package. See our full comparison for details.
What’s the difference between Magoosh and Kaplan SAT?
Beyond the difference in pricing, we found Kaplan to offer better video lessons and prep books, while giving Magoosh the nod for having a better practice problem explanations and supplemental resources.
Do both Kaplan and Magoosh have score increase guarantees?
Yes, both Kaplan and Magoosh each offer higher score guarantees with their prep courses, or your money back.