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Magoosh vs Princeton Review GRE
See which GRE prep course is right for you in this detailed Princeton Review vs Magoosh comparison
If you are planning on applying to graduate school, you’ll probably need to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). The GRE is a common admissions requirement for both masters and Ph.D. programs that is designed to measure overall academic readiness for graduate school. However, as you would imagine, the GRE is a difficult exam that requires extensive preparation; and over the years many students have found that a prep course can be very helpful in obtaining the best score possible. But deciding what prep course is best for you can be a difficult decision, which is why we are comparing two of the top GRE prep courses – Magoosh and Princeton Review.
Given this is a robust, detailed comparison, we’ve included jump-to links above for your convenience. You may also want to check out our list of the best GRE prep courses on the market before you start studying.
Comparing Magoosh and Princeton Review is virtually covering the whole GRE test prep universe. While Magoosh prides itself by providing a budget friendly, extremely flexible, high-value courses with serious bang for the buck, Princeton prides itself in having been prepping students for the GRE for over 35 years and having the experience, inside knowledge and resources to help students perform at their absolute best. What prep course is best for you is probably going to depend on your unique circumstances, preferences and study habits, but let’s take a closer look at each course on a variety of criteria.
GRE Prep Course Price
Price is often one of the primary criteria students use in evaluating what is the best prep course for them, and often it is a difficult decision. Fortunately, the decision is a little easier between Magoosh and Princeton as one offers a high quality value course for the budget conscious student, while the other provides several time-tested top-end courses with extensive resources and support.
Magoosh’s pricing is simple and straightforward. They simply offer two plans: a 1-Month Premium plan for $169, and a 6-Month Premium plan for $199. Technically, Magoosh also offers a live class version now as well, but it’s really just the 6-Month Premium plan with optional drop-in classes.
Compared to the cost of other GRE test prep courses, Magoosh offers a compelling value for the quality product they provide.
In contrast, Princeton has 3 primary course options, and 2 private tutoring packages. Princeton’s basic Self-Paced course is priced at around $500, its’ flagship Fundamentals course with an added 24 hours of live in-class instruction at $1,200, and finally for students looking to absolutely ace the GRE its’ very popular top of the line GRE 162+ package adding on 45 hours of live instruction and 20 hours of Quant and Verbal supplemental sessions for $2,300.
Princeton also offers 1-on-1 tutoring through its’ Targeted Tutoring package containing 10 hours of tutoring at $1,800, and its’ Comprehensive Tutoring package of 18 hours for $3,000. Although priced at the upper end of most GRE prep course providers, there is absolutely no doubt you get what you pay for with Princeton. Their core curriculum, classroom instruction and private tutoring is among the best we have reviewed, and they leave no stone unturned in preparing students to get the absolute best score possible on the GRE.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
GRE Study Materials
Magoosh and Princeton take vastly different approaches to their GRE study materials. As one would imagine based on each prep course’s pricing structure, while Magoosh takes the budget approach, Princeton spares no expense in their GRE course curriculum. Nevertheless, in their own right, both programs offer a top-notch product.
Although priced at only about ¼ the cost of Princeton’s basic online prep course, don’t be fooled into thinking there is no way Magoosh can offer top level GRE study materials. In fact, Magoosh gives you basically everything you need to get an excellent score on the GRE. The primary component of Magoosh’s study materials is their video lessons. While somewhat lacking in production quality, the videos lessons are substance rich, very comprehensive, and cover every topic on the GRE. The instructors are extremely knowledgeable and do an excellent job of breaking down problem sets and complex subject matter. Short practice problem sets follow each video lesson to further reinforce what you just learned.
Beyond the video lessons and problem sets, Magoosh also offers a superb customizable problem function that allows you to create practice sets based on a variety of metrics, excellent in-depth problem explanations, and a very cool review function that gives you a snapshot picture of how you’re performing at any moment in time on any of a variety of filtered variables. Overall, even at its’ price point, Magoosh offers a very impressive package of study materials.
Princeton Review, in contrast, wows in the sheer quantity and quality of its’ study materials. Princeton’s core curriculum is broken down into 4 sections that generally align with the GRE: math, verbal, essay, and strategies. Each of the 4 sections is further divided into units based on subtopics and concepts, and follow a clear and repeated structure of: “essentials, lessons and drills”.
The units lead off with a short video lesson covering the “Essential” foundational principles. The videos are very clean and professional with high production quality. The topics are presented in a natural flow, the instructors are excellent and the mode of delivery is incredibly effective. Following each “Essential” video is a “Lesson” component of the unit broken into the repeated pattern of: getting started, discover, explore and stepping back – essentially diving deeper and further reinforcing each subtopic or concept.
Lastly, following the “Lesson” is a series of “Drills” utilizing Princeton’s proprietary “Drill Smart” program. The “Drill Smart” program is an adapted performance technology intended to operate just like the real GRE, and we found it to be a very valuable tool. In total, Princeton’s study materials are without peer in the GRE prep space, and its’ course structure of engaging essential videos, dynamic and interactive lessons, and adaptive drills hammer home the subject matter like no other prep course does.
GRE Prep Books
The comparison between Magoosh and Princeton Review is relatively easy when it comes to prep books: one course provides hardcopy books (Princeton Review) and one doesn’t (Magoosh). That said, Magoosh is upfront about this matter and prides itself on being a strictly 100% digital online prep course. In fact, Magoosh pitches this as an advantage – you can study anywhere, at anytime, on any device.
On the other hand, Princeton provides hardcopy textbooks with its Fundamentals and GRE 162+ courses (though notably not their Self-Paced option). These books track the lessons of the two course options and offer in-depth concept explanations, strategies for approaching different tested material, and example practice problems. We found these books to be well-written and neatly organized, and helpful overall, but not necessarily a highlight of the course.
And just as a note for those that are looking at Princeton’s Self-Paced option, they do offer a “GRE Premium Prep” study book, which can be purchased through Amazon. They market this standalone book as an alternative to their prep courses, but we’re pretty skeptical of this claim. We purchased the book, and although it does contain written lessons, practice problems and some practice tests, we really only found the study book to be the functional equivalent of a supplement, as it doesn’t come close to providing the comprehensive curriculum of the prep course itself, or what is needed to perform well on the GRE. So we would suggest giving that book a look only as a complement to the Self-Paced course.
GRE Practice Tests
Both Magoosh and Princeton offer practice tests that are close replications the actual GRE. For one, they both provide GRE exam-style questions and real test day experience through their simulated computer programs that use adaptive technology that increases in difficulty as you perform better – similar to the real GRE.
However, while Magoosh offers only 3 full-length practice tests, Princeton offers an industry leading 8 full-length tests. Further, we found Princeton’s questions were slightly better than Magoosh’s in mirroring the GRE style, content and format.
That wasn’t a major disparity, but enough worth noting. In addition, Princeton provides an interactive score report that is very helpful in breaking down your performance and allowing you to filter down on different variables to better access your strengths and weaknesses.
User Experience & Interface
Content of any prep course is important, but equally important is the delivery of the content – and both Magoosh and Princeton do an excellent job in the form of their delivery. Magoosh’s dashboard, interface and user experience are all above and beyond what you would expect from a budget friendly prep course. The dashboard is clean, simple and offers direct access to many helpful tools. From the homepage you’re just a click away from suggested lessons, including “Quick Practice” options that allow you to immediately jump into practice problem sets. Overall, the look is sharp with excellent user functionality.
Princeton’s user interface is every bit the equal of Magoosh, and in many ways superior. The online content is structured very simply but professionally, and is extremely easy to use. The homepage is well designed, and tabs for your dashboard, practice tests, coursework, schedule and resources are easy to spot and quickly navigate you to your desired location. The interface is very intuitive with some cool features and resources. It’s very obvious that Princeton has dedicated a lot of time and money to the online user experience, and it definitely shows.
Though Magoosh has historically never offered live classes, they have recently started offering live online drop-in classes. These classes are office-hour style, where you can drop in and out as you want, and learn about specific topics. To be clear, these sessions don’t really follow a regular schedule or long term agenda. In other words, they are not really comparable to Princeton’s.
In contrast, Princeton offers 24 hours of live or online in-class instruction with its flagship Fundamentals prep course, and 45 hours with its’ GRE 162+ package. As you would expect with Princeton, the classroom experience is excellent. The classes are thoughtfully planned, well executed and extremely effective. The instructors are very knowledgeable, engaging and are masters at holding your attention through a fast-paced class. We highly recommend the classroom component for anyone who may need more structure in their studies, or who simply favor a live course.
Extra GRE Resources
Typically, the term “value prep course” translates to limited extra resources. However, such is not the case with Magoosh. Surprisingly, Magoosh offers several helpful resources such as: a custom study planner and recommended study schedules (based on study timeframes from 1 week to 6 months), subject flashcards, a mobile app crammed full of practice material, 24/7 email support, related blog, and very helpful test taking tips under its’ general resources. Overall, we were genuinely impressed with the scope and quality of Magoosh’s added resources.
Princeton’s included resources are also extensive and add significant value to its’ course materials. A few of Princeton’s many added extra resources include: access to two 1.5-hour GRE Math Fundamentals live online courses (available on any of its’ course options), its’ Vocabulary Hit Parade workbook on the most commonly seen vocabulary terms on the test, test taking tips, a practice schedule, and extensive student support. Princeton has been prepping students for the GRE for over 35 years and they are truly experts in providing students with every tool they need to succeed.
As mentioned above, there are two access period options with Magoosh: 1 month or 6 months. Unless your study window is very short, we recommend the 6-month option as it’s only about $30 more than the 1-month program.
Princeton provides students a 120-day (4 month) access period across all of its’ course options. However, with its’ higher end Fundamentals and GRE 162+ courses, Princeton adds as a bonus access to all course materials during your early enrollment period. So, if you enroll a month before your GRE course scheduled start date you effectively get 5 months of full access.
Refund Policy & Score Guarantees
Both Magoosh and Princeton stand behind their course products and have a refund policy and a score guarantee. Magoosh offers a very simple 7-day money back refund policy. If for any reason you are unhappy with its’ course, simply send them an email and your tuition will be fully refunded. No questions asked. Magoosh also offers a simple guaranteed 5-point increase in your score – or your money back (to qualify for the score guarantee, among other conditions, you must have previously taken the GRE).
Similarly, Princeton offers a 100% refund of your tuition on its’ Self-Paced course if requested within 7 days of purchase. However, with its’ other program offerings, Princeton only offers a full refund of your tuition if cancelled prior to the scheduled start date of the course. Princeton’s score guarantee generously covers all three of its’ course options: Self-Paced, Fundamentals and GRE 162+. Provided you follow certain requirements, for example: having previously taken the GRE, attending all classes, completing all homework, taking all the practice tests; and you don’t get an improvement in your GRE score, Princeton offers your choice of a full refund of your tuition or the option to retake the course free of charge.
PLEASE NOTE: Both Magoosh and Princeton Review’s Refund Policy and Score Guarantees come with many conditions and qualifiers, so please read the fine print.
Verdict: Magoosh vs Princeton Review GRE Comparison
Although Magoosh and Princeton Review both offer high-quality study materials to help students score high on the GRE, the decision between the two is quite easy in our eyes. Bottom line, if you’re looking for the better overall prep course, there’s no question Princeton Review is the winner. The Princeton Review GRE prep package is just more robust than Magoosh at the end of the day.
With that said, Magoosh is still a great GRE prep option. If you’re working with a limited budget and can’t afford to splurge on a course from Princeton or Kaplan, Magoosh is likely the best budget prep option on the market.