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Manhattan Prep vs Kaplan GRE
See how the GRE prep courses from Manhattan Prep and Kaplan stack up against one another
Since prep books just don’t seem to cut it these days, it’s not surprising that many students turn to prep courses to give them the best shot at scoring high on the GRE. Although there are many GRE prep options out there, Kaplan and Manhattan Prep are widely considered two of the best. Therefore, to help you determine which is the ideal option for you, we put the GRE prep courses from Manhattan Prep and Kaplan head-to-head to see which one wins.
Kaplan gives you only three different course levels as opposed to the four offered by Manhattan. That being said, these three levels cover a wide range of study types, from self-guided studies to live, in-person sessions. The different levels include:
Self-Guided – costing about $450, with over 40 hours of video instruction, access to over 5,000 practice questions, hardcopy books, and 6 months of content access.
Live Online – priced around $1,000, with over 40 hours of video instruction, access to over 5,000 practice questions, hardcopy books, 21 hours of live online class hours, and content access for the length of the course.
In-Person – priced just under $1,200, with over 40 hours of video instruction, access to over 5,000 practice questions hardcopy books, 21 hours of in person class hours, and content access for the length of the course.
The difference between the Live Online and In-Person options is that the higher priced course offers you a traditional classroom environment where you’ll travel to physical site and attend classes with an instructor and other students, as opposed to live, webinar type virtual classes.
Quality of Kaplan GRE Study Materials
Kaplan is a known leader in the test prep industry, and rightfully so. With their proven methods to prepare their students for success, it’s no surprise that their GRE course offers stellar resources and highly effective tools to help students gear up for the exam.
The high-quality video lessons are taught by excellent and engaging instructors who go out of their way to ensure that you understand the content being delivered. They never hesitate to revisit questions if the class doesn’t seem to understand the topic. I really like that the instructors share test taking tips and strategies in addition to their lectures and problem-solving lessons.
It is obvious that Kaplan has spared no expense on the video lessons, as they are of high production quality with modern digital effects. Each video is followed by a quiz to assess your knowledge on the material just covered. The quizzes are followed by detailed explanations of the answers so you can easily identify areas where you need to focus more of your attention.
The QBank feature that is included with Kaplan’s GRE course is an invaluable tool when it comes to your test prep. In fact, if their books weren’t so darn good, this QBank would be my favorite component of Kaplan’s course.
With over 5,000 practice questions at your fingertips, you can customize practice tests based on your own specific needs. I love the personalization that the QBank offers, and often found myself using it to build quizzes to attack my weakest areas. You can customize your practice by topic and difficulty level, as well as if you want to be timed or not. The QBank is super easy to navigate and a highly effective study tool.
Kaplan’s prep package gives you access to 7 full-length practice tests, which is more than almost any other GRE prep provider. Even better, Kaplan’s practice exams are written in conjunction with the Educational Testing Service, so they are exactly like what you’ll experience when you sit down for the actual GRE. In my opinion, Kaplan’s practice exams provide a true and accurate mirroring of the real exam, from duplicating the testing format to the computer adaptive questions.
What sets Kaplan apart from all other services is their incredible print prep books. For me and others on our review team, having hardcopy books is crucial, and I think Kaplan’s textbooks are the cream of the crop. You’ll get two hardcopy books that, for the most part, easily track with the live and online courses. This makes it very easy to follow along in the book as you maneuver through your lessons.
These books are well written and incredibly detailed. In fact, they are so painstakingly thorough and comprehensive that there is probably more material than you will ever be able to digest. Some might see this abundance of printed content as overkill, but I find it exhilarating that so much information is at my disposal.
It should be noted that Kaplan’s books are also available as PDFs for those who prefer that format. For me, it is refreshing to find a prep course that still provides you the opportunity to learn with old school textbooks in a time when so many others relying on digital eBook content to get the job done. With that said, the PDF’s have the same exceptional content as the printed material, so with either format you are getting first-rate content.
The GRE Interact program begins at around $300, with 77 video lessons and content access period of 1 to 6 months.
The Just Math Course costs about $800, with 52 video lessons, 12 live class hours, hardcopy books, and access to course content for the length of the course plus 6 months.
The Complete Course price is just about $1,400, with 66 video lessons, 24 live class hours, hardcopy books, and content access for the length of the course plus 6 months.
The top end GRE for MBA Course comes in at roughly $1,600 with 66 video lessons, 30 live class hours, hardcopy books, and access to materials for the length of the course plus 6 months.
Now that we’ve covered the different course options, let’s discuss the quality of Manhattan’s GRE prep materials.
Evaluation of Manhattan Prep GRE Coursework
When it comes to the quality of the coursework, Manhattan Prep is aces. From the on-demand option to the full classes, you’ll get a variety of modules to complete across progressive levels of difficulty. They’re structured using a systematic approach that starts with learning, moves to drilling on the knowledge, and ends with a quiz to determine if you’ve learned what you need to know. This systematic approach is covered in more detail below.
Manhattan Prep touts that over 100,000 practice questions are included with each of their GRE course options. Yes, you read that right, over 100,000 practice questions. This is a staggering amount practice questions, and is leaps and bounds more than any other company has to offer. In fact, there are so many practice questions that you’ll likely never see them all.
At first, the vast amount of material made me quite anxious. I was overwhelmed, pressuring myself to do more and more. After all, there are 100,000 practice questions! I pushed to get through as many as possible, but soon came to the realization that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Once the overachiever in me succumbed to the fact that I did not need to get through all available practice questions in order to perform well on the exam, I was in a much more relaxed frame of mind to continue with my studies.
Manhattan’s GRE video lessons are taught by instructors who are in the top 1% of all scorers on the exam, and it shows. Not only do they really know their stuff, but they deliver the content and share their knowledge in ways that make you believe that they really want you to succeed. I liked that often times the instructor would tell funny stories or add humorous anecdotes. When studying difficult topics, I welcomed the humor and the relief in tension that the instructors provided.
With the three higher priced courses you will get a hard-copy study guide and exercise book to use in your prep. The base level has no book. For those book lovers and learners like me, this is a downside, especially if affordability is a big factor for you when choosing your prep. For some, this might not be a big deal. I would just like to see the inclusion of books with the most affordable course option.
Manhattan Prep has a pretty impressive mobile app that gives you access to practice problems, quizzes, and flashcards on your mobile device. This is a good resource if you have breaks in your day that allow you some quick-hit study time.
Finally, with Manhattan’s GRE prep you will have access to 6 full length, computer adaptive practice tests that are designed to provide you with a real test taking experience prior to exam day. Personally, I took 4 of these practice exams, and feel that while they didn’t exactly mimic the exam taking experience, they gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Hands down, the best thing about Manhattan’s GRE prep is their systematic approach to learning. Labeled “Learn It, Drill It, Prove It”, this three-step method applies to every level of your prep work, no matter which course you choose.
The core of the lessons, of course, is the “Learn It” section. It starts with diagnostics to determine where you are in your learning process. Once this baseline for your prep work is established you will go through a series of interactive video lessons on the topic at hand. The lessons include your teacher breaking down problems over a whiteboard, quizzes to test your comprehension of the concepts, and an occasional cartoon or joke to provide a break in the tension of studying.
Next, you move into the “Drill It” portion of the class. In this step, you use drills similar to virtual flashcards to test what you’ve learned. You’ll work out a set of given problems and check each answer to see if it is correct or incorrect. After working through a succession of these drills, you’ll be ready to move on to the final element in this 3-step approach.
In rounding out Manhattan Prep’s learning approach, your last step is “Prove It”. Here, you will take a quiz to determine if you satisfactorily learned the material presented in the first two steps. If you pass this test with at least a 90% score, you’ll be ready to continue moving forward with your lessons.
I really like this 3-tier concept. Basically, you learn the material through high quality, interactive video lessons taught by engaging instructors. Next you revisit the information you learned by drilling important topics. Finally, you test your knowledge to determine if you’ve mastered the topic at hand. As simple as it sounds, it is highly effective should not be overlooked as the highlight to Manhattan Prep’s GRE course.
As you can see, Kaplan and Manhattan Prep are two powerhouses when it comes to GRE prep. Overall, their courses are similar in their content delivery, features, and overall prep, making it difficult to choose between the two. Hopefully, our detailed analysis has provided you with sufficient information help you make that choice. If you are still on the fence, here is our point-by-point final verdict:
Pricing – Edge: Kaplan. While Kaplan’s lowest leveled Self-Guided course costs a little more than Manhattan Prep’s similar offering, the overall pricing edge goes to Kaplan. Kaplan’s Live Online course costs about $1,000, while Manhattan Prep’s comparable Complete Course comes in at around $1,400.00.
Study Materials – Edge: Manhattan Prep. This was a tough decision, but ultimately it was Manhattan Prep’s unequalled number of practice problems and their “Learn it, Drill it, Prove it” approach that put them over the top.
Live Instruction – Tie. This category is too close to call. At the end of the day, both companies have engaging, top-notch instructors deliver their prep materials.
GRE Prep Books – Edge: Kaplan. It’s really hard to overstate just how good Kaplan’s prep books are. They are exceptionally thorough and well-written, and their comprehensive nature easily places them as the best in GRE prep.
GRE Practice Tests – Edge: Kaplan. Both Manhattan Prep and Kaplan offer high quality practice tests. It is Kaplan’s 7 full-length practice exams that mimic the actual GRE exam, both in terms of testing format and the types of questions you will see on test day, that give them the nod here.
User Experience – Tie. The digital portals of both Manhattan Prep and Kaplan are sleek, clean and easy-to-use.
Content Access Period – Edge: Manhattan Prep. The timelines here made it easy to pick a winner. Kaplan’s Live Online course gives you content access for the duration of your course. With Manhattan Prep’s similar Complete course, you will have access to your content for 6 months after your course ends. With that said, students generally don’t need access beyond the length of their course.
Although deciding between Manhattan Prep and Kaplan can be difficult, our team ultimately leans towards Kaplan given the information above.
Which GRE prep course costs more – Manhattan Prep or Kaplan?
On average, Kaplan’s courses are more affordable. For example, the prices for Kaplan’s Live Online course and Manhattan Prep’s similar Complete course, are about $1,000 and $1,400, respectively.
What’s the biggest difference between the Manhattan Prep and Kaplan GRE prep courses?
Both courses have similar offerings. Their differences lie in the delivery of their instructional material. Manhattan Prep has systematic approach to learning with their “Learn It, Drill It, Prove It” process, while Kaplan’s highlights are their unsurpassed prep books and practice exams.
Do Manhattan Prep and Kaplan include prep books with their GRE courses?
Yes. Both Manhattan Prep and Kaplan include high-quality, helpful prep books with their GRE courses.