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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 biggest prep company 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 these courses stack up head-to-head so that you can make an informed decision for your own prep.
To provide the best direct comparison of these two SAT and ACT prep review courses, we think it is best to see a side-by-side evaluation of the key features of each course. And, as each company’s SAT and ACT prep courses roughly mirror each other and have overlapping materials, we’ll be doing a combined comparison of each company’s SAT and ACT offerings. Here is our breakdown of how these test prep giants stack up in each category.
Quality of Coursework
Although most people assume Kaplan offers a more robust package of SAT and ACT coursework, they’d be wrong. At least, that’s how our team sees it. While we do acknowledge that we prefer Kaplan’s integrated approach to learning with a curriculum woven around dynamic learning modules, we actually prefer Magoosh’s body of prep materials. They offer roughly 4x as many video lessons, close to 2x as many practice questions, and a whole bunch of great resources.
Obviously quantity is only half the equation and doesn’t necessarily always translate to quality, but in Magoosh’s case, it does. We loved Magoosh’s deep library of helpful video lessons and stellar video and text explanations that accompany their practice problems. Advantage: Magoosh.
Pricing & Course Options
This is a pretty easy category to judge for anyone. Magoosh offers just about the best value in SAT and ACT prep, with both of their mainstay, 100% online prep courses coming in at around $130. This is in comparison to Kaplan’s self-paced package that costs right around $200. And even Magoosh’s live classes cost a fraction of what you can expect to pay for Kaplan’s analogous live class offerings. Advantage: Magoosh.
Now, this is a category where 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. Advantage: Kaplan.
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. Now to be clear, Magoosh does have an ACT prep book, but it’s a standalone study supplement sold on Amazon for around $20. 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. Advantage: Kaplan.
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. And having taken each company’s live classes, I would give the nod to Kaplan. 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. But not by much at all. Advantage: Kaplan.
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 enough to mention the difference. But 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.
But where I think Magoosh actually takes this category is with their problem solutions. Taking the practice test is only half the battle. Reviewing the problems you get wrong is where the real learning comes in. And I simply loved Magoosh’s text AND video explanations, finding both to provide significant value. Advantage: Magoosh.
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. Advantage: Kaplan.
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. Advantage: Magoosh.
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. Advantage: Magoosh.
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. Advantage: Magoosh.
Verdict: Kaplan vs Magoosh SAT & ACT
In this battle of SAT and ACT prep providers, it is a very close call. While Kaplan offers superior video lessons, slightly better live classes, and helpful prep books, our team actually prefers Magoosh’s overall course depth, practice materials (especially the accompanying problem explanations) and low price tag. With the back and forth wins in each category, choosing a winner is extremely hard, even for our team.
However, at the end of the day, if you can only pick one prep course, our team likes Magoosh. Not only do they provide more bang for your buck with their value pricing, but we also found them to offer the more robust package. Their deep library of video lessons is incredibly valuable, the video explanations that accompany every practice problem are awesome, and their live chat support and other extras make a world of difference. And even their newly minted live classes are right up there with some of the best in the space (i.e. Kaplan and Princeton Review). In short, given all the factors at play here, Magoosh wins this battle of SAT and ACT prep providers.
Which SAT review course is better, Magoosh or Kaplan?
Though our team rates each company’s SAT prep course out very highly, we ultimately see Magoosh offering a slightly better prep package than Kaplan. 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 course curriculum, 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.