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Magoosh vs Princeton Review SAT & ACT
Our comprehensive guide comparing the SAT & ACT prep courses from Princeton Review and Magoosh
Princeton Review is one of the most popular SAT and ACT prep options on the market, and for good reason. Their coursework is incredibly robust and has a proven track record. However, for value-seeking students (and their parents), the Princeton price tag can leave them looking for cheaper alternatives – like Magoosh. We provide our thoughts on whether budget-friendly Magoosh stands up to Princeton Review in this detailed comparison guide.
Reasons To Choose Princeton Review For SAT/ACT Prep
Although the two companies share several similarities, there are some important and distinct differences to call out. Below is a quick synopsis of the areas in which our team sees Princeton Review winning over Magoosh for SAT or ACT prep.
Evaluation of Coursework
In terms of straight volume and effectiveness of coursework, Princeton Review takes this category. As much as we love the Magoosh SAT and ACT prep offerings, they just can’t compete with Princeton Review. For one, Princeton Review offers more hours of video lessons, more live class time, more practice questions, and more full-length practice exams. But that’s only half the equation (arguably even less than half).
Looking at the quality and depth of each company’s curriculum, Princeton Review wins on that front as well. More on every aspect of both companies’ courses below, but in short, we just found the Princeton Review content and delivery of prep material to be more engaging and effective (and in fact ranks near the top of our list of Best SAT and Best ACT Prep Courses).
Though Magoosh provides a library of 200+ video-based lessons that are solid in their own right, Princeton Review’s video lectures are simply stellar. We loved everything about them – the short, engaging length, delivery format, and well-crafted content.
Rather than getting some stuffy lecture with a teacher talking from behind a podium for 90 minutes or more, you get highly digestible 4 to 10 minute videos.
In addition, notes, graphics and sample problems are superimposed on the screen between you and the teacher, and they often grab a marker to mark up the screen right in front of you. It’s a really cool effect, making for some of (if the not the) best video lessons in the SAT and ACT prep space.
This is a pretty simple category to dub a winner as Princeton Review offers students hardcopy prep books, while Magoosh does not. To be totally transparent, Magoosh does off a standalone ACT prep book on Amazon for $20, but it’s not included with your Magoosh ACT prep course (why, I don’t know). But if you do decide to use Magoosh for your ACT prep, we do recommend it as a supplement to the course. As for Princeton Review’s prep books, we had no complaints.
They track with and supplement your core online coursework, and offer tons of sample problems, test taking strategies and testable subject matter review. They are perhaps a second to only Kaplan’s books in this industry.
Now, a year or two ago, this would have been an open and shut case as Magoosh historically has never offered live classes. HOWEVER, just recently Magoosh has expanded their offerings and started providing live classes for their SAT and ACT prep. And the verdict after having had a chance to review them? They are darn good. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given that Magoosh does most everything well, but they were particularly well done in my opinion.
You get 16 hours of live class instruction, generally meeting twice per week for 2-hour sessions. With that said, Princeton Review still offers the best live class experience in the SAT and ACT prep industry, hands down. Not only do you get more live class hours with Princeton (18 or 36 hours depending on your package), but the curriculum of these live classes is better. While Magoosh still figures out their lesson plans, Princeton Review has their lesson plans down to a “T.”
While we generally hate awarding wins based on quantity alone (we find quality of materials to be much more valuable), you just can’t get around the major disparity in volume here. Princeton Review offers 25 practice SAT exams to Magoosh’s 3 (yes, you read that correctly), and 10 simulated ACT’s to Magoosh’s 4. That’s a massive difference and very important for experiential learners that love to learn by simply doing. In terms of quality, we found it to be more or less a wash between both providers.
Magoosh and Princeton each offer practice questions that do a fine job matching the difficulty, length and content of real exam questions. And just one final note: we actually do prefer Magoosh’s accompanying problem explanations, in large part because of their awesome video-based problem explanations for each question.
Now that you have a good idea of the areas in which Princeton Review is better than Magoosh, let’s flip the script and talk about the advantages of going with Magoosh for SAT or ACT prep.
Pricing & Course Options
Without a doubt, Magoosh offers better bang for your buck than Princeton Review. In fact, Magoosh offers better value than just about every prep provider in the SAT and ACT prep space (except for maybe PrepScholar). At roughly $130 for their self-paced package and $400 for their course offering with live class time, they’re budget friendly prep packages are unparalleled in this regard. So, major edge to Magoosh. The bigger question though is whether this value is enough to warrant coming off Princeton Review’s high price tag to take a chance.
User Experience & Interface
Given the price difference here, you would think that Princeton Review would win this category by a mile because of their significant resources. However, after thoroughly using each course’s platform, we actually prefer Magoosh here. Kind of an upset win for the little guy.
Their digital interface is clean, easy to use and ultra-intuitive. Their user experience is so straight forward that a child could navigate it.
Princeton Review’s UX on the other hand, is just alright. Since they don’t really offer anything to write home about, Magoosh gets the edge.
Another surprising win for Magoosh in this category. While Princeton offers a handful of helpful resources, including their bonus SAT/ACT Advantage sessions, Magoosh simply offers more. I’m talking two mobile apps, 24/7 email and chat support, suggested study guides with tips, flashcards, and more. It’s very surprising how much valuable stuff Magoosh packs into such a budget-friendly course.
Content Access Period
As both companies offer students 1 year of access to their online materials, this is a dead tie. One year is MORE than enough for most students.
This is a very interesting category to judge. One the one hand you have Magoosh, who offers a score increase guarantee of at least 100 points with their SAT prep and 4+ points with their ACT prep. Very impressive. Then you have Princeton Review who offers a basic score increase with their self-paced and essentials courses (i.e. one point increase), but some very cool minimum score thresholds with their premium courses. They offer SAT packages that promise scores of at least 1400 or 1500 points, and an ACT package that guarantees a score of at least 31. Those are some semi-crazy guarantees.
Of course, there is fine print around these promised scores, so make sure to check their legalese, but very cool nonetheless. But in terms of declaring a winner, we like the fact that Magoosh gives you their rock solid guarantees for a fraction of the price with every package (in fact, over $1,000 less). So that value wins the day.
This is a very close call for our team to make. On the one hand, there is a lot to like about the Magoosh SAT and ACT prep courses. We love their bang for your buck, high value pricing, deep library of SAT and ACT video lessons, high quality practice questions, and the fact that every problem comes with a short video explanation for visual learners.
But this is counterbalanced by the fact that Princeton Review simply provides the better overall prep course. Their curriculum is more robust, with deeper lessons, better and more engaging video lectures, best-in-category live classes, and mountains of practice work to keep even the most busybody student loaded up with prep work. At the end of the day, our team prefers Princeton Review for SAT and ACT prep, especially if you’re serious about getting a top tier score and money isn’t such an issue. But if dough is tight, we have no problem at all supporting the effectiveness of the Magoosh SAT and ACT courses.
Which SAT review course is better, Magoosh or Princeton Review?
While our team likes both the Magoosh and Princeton Review SAT and ACT prep courses, rating them both out very highly, we ultimately prefer the Princeton Review course.
Is Magoosh SAT prep worth it?
In our team’s opinion, yes, Magoosh SAT prep and ACT prep is absolutely worth it. While their curriculum is not as robust as Princeton Review’s, this budget-friendly prep option still packs a punch.
Is Princeton Review SAT prep worth it?
There is no doubt that the Princeton Review SAT and ACT prep courses are worth it. With their high quality video lessons, engaging live classes and mountains of practice material, they rate out as one of the best prep providers in the space.