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PrepScholar vs Princeton Review SAT & ACT
A side-by-side look at the SAT and ACT prep courses from PrepScholar and Princeton Review
Princeton Review has long been the premier prep option for students gearing up to take the SAT and ACT. However, in recent years, PrepScholar has come on incredibly strong, giving Princeton Review a run for their money in terms of test prep effectiveness and affordability. In this detailed comparison, we take a close look at the major features of both courses, provide our team’s thoughts, and ultimately, dub one the winner.
As this is a lengthy comparison, we’ve included helpful jump-to links above for easy navigation.
PrepScholar vs Princeton Review SAT Video Guide
In the video above, Test Prep Insight team member John directly compares the major strengths and weaknesses of the SAT prep courses from Princeton Review and PrepScholar. For more detail, read our full comparison below.
To provide the most effective analysis of these two SAT & ACT prep providers, we think it is best to see a head-to-head comparison of the key features of each course. Here is how we see the major categories breaking down.
PrepScholar and Princeton Review provide two of the best sets of coursework in the SAT/ACT prep industry. In fact, these two courses rate out as #1 and #2 on our best SAT and best ACT courses lists, based largely on the strength of each courses’ set of high quality coursework. That said, each company takes a slightly different approach to their study plan. On the one hand, PrepScholar takes a very classic approach with lessons that follow the learning science-backed pattern of “learn, practice, review.” Under this model, you progressively work through a lesson plan on a particular concept built around text and video lectures, followed by a quiz to test your knowledge. You then round out each module with a review session to learn from your mistakes. This is a classic formula for learning backed by years of research, and we found it to be highly effective.
On the other hand, Princeton review takes a similar approach, but focuses more on their video lessons and hardcopy prep books. They group lessons by subtopic and you work your way through material methodically, learning and drilling problems as you go. Our team found the curriculum offered by each course to be highly effective, but in the end, we give the nod to PrepScholar for the better all-around bundle of coursework. Advantage: PrepScholar.
Pricing & Course Options
One of the most important categories for many students (and their parents) is cost. No one wants to overpay for bells and whistles thy don’t need, but you also don’t want a cut-rate course either. In other words, most people are after value pricing, balancing quality and cost. While both PrepScholar and Princeton Review each offer affordable price points, it is ultimately PrepScholar that gets the win in this category. At a little under $400 for their flagship self-paced course, they offer one of the most attractive price points around. And if you are taking the ACT as well as the SAT, they offer a dual prep package for a shade under $600. By comparison, Princeton’s most popular options price out closer to a thousand dollars. Advantage: PrepScholar.
There is no doubt that Princeton Review provides the higher quality video lessons. While we really like the content and short digestible structure of PrepScholar’s video-based lessons, Princeton’s video lectures are simply too good. It starts with the production quality of these videos, which feature your instructor onscreen, working practice problems and making notes on an invisible glass screen between you and the teacher.
It is a very engaging format for learning, and is far superior to the traditional slideshow-style approach that PrepScholar uses. In addition, the content of the Princeton lessons is rock solid, and our team found the instructors to be incredibly powerful communicators. Advantage: Princeton Review.
This category is a slam dunk win for Princeton Review, as they offer hardcopy prep books, while PrepScholar does not. PrepScholar offers some very effective written lesson plans (which you can print), but Princeton’s SAT and ACT books are far more robust.
They cover test taking strategies, content review, and sample problems, in very nice print copies that you can haul around with you. Advantage: Princeton Review.
Unlike the books category above, this one is a very close call. Both PrepScholar and Princeton Review each offer packages with live class sessions, and for the around the same price. For just under $900 with each prep company, you can up the ante and get live class sessions that meet regularly, which can really help those students that need the commitment and accountability of a live class. With respect to the quality of each set of live classes, we give an ever-so-slight nod to Princeton Review. We loved the PrepScholar live classes, find their online classroom format to be highly effective. However, for our team, the Princeton Review live instructors make all the difference. Every instructor we engaged with was an SAT and ACT guru, and excellent communicator as well. It just felt like Princeton Review has more carefully refined its live class sessions and structure. Advantage: Princeton Review.
This is a category where we have PrepScholar absolutely walloping Princeton Review. Not only does PrepScholar trounce Princeton in terms of quantity of practice material, but also in terms of quality. We found the content, difficulty and length of PrepScholar’s practice problems to be the most realistic of real exam questions. In addition, we were a huge fan of PrepScholar’s in-depth problem explanations, which dive into the weeds to explain why each answer choice is correct, or incorrect.
This is not to say the Princeton Review practice problems and accompanying text explanations are bad – because they’re not at all. In fact, we likely have Princeton Review as a close second to PrepScholar when comparing all SAT and ACT prep providers. But at the end of the day, PrepScholar just stands head and shoulders above the competition in this category. Advantage: PrepScholar.
If forced to give an edge one way or another here, we’d give it to Princeton Review for their slightly more modern look. Advantage: Princeton Review.
Supplemental resources is always a finicky category for students. Some students fully immerse themselves in their prep programs, taking advantage of every last resource, while others stick the core curriculum and practice problems, not diving into the extras. It just depends on the student. But for those preppers that love to sink their teeth in, we give a slight edge to Princeton Review here. Both companies offer super helpful information about colleges you may be interested in, as well as email support and detailed performance reports. But the difference maker here is Princeton Review’s “Advantage” sessions. These are supplemental lectures on individual SAT and ACT topics that take a deep dive into one niche area and are designed to really help students understand these advanced topics. They are excellent resources if you’re weak in one area. And for that, Princeton gets the edge. Advantage: Princeton Review.
Content Access Period
How long students’ study for the SAT and ACT is really all over the board and depends on a variety of factors, such as desired score, study habits, and free time. In any case, both courses offer a generous 1 full year of access to their prep materials, and such, this is a clear tie. Advantage: TIE.
Score guarantees are always a crucial factor in determining which course to go with. We put heavy weight on this category, as it both reflects a company’s confidence in its own prep materials, as well as provides students with a nice safety net. Here, PrepScholar promises a 160+ point increase guarantee on the SAT, and a 4+ point score jump on the ACT. These are about the best score guarantees in the space. Princeton Review does offer some unique minimum score guarantees with their ACT 31+ and SAT 1400+ packages, but these are more expensive options and generally have more restrictive terms and conditions. The PrepScholar score guarantees, however, apply to all their course options (even their flagship $400 course) and the fine print isn’t as rigid. Advantage: PrepScholar.
Verdict: Princeton Review vs PrepScholar Comparison
This is an extremely tough head-to-head battle for our team to call. Both PrepScholar and Princeton Review offer two of the best SAT and ACT prep programs around. Each offers a strong curriculum, with video-based lectures, detailed lesson plans, and mountains of high-quality practice work. In terms of differentiation, we see Princeton Review as offering better video lessons, prep books and live classes than PrepScholar. However, we love PrepScholar’s stellar course structure and lesson plans, highly realistic practice work, adaptive software, and generous score guarantees. It’s a close call, but in the end, we give the slight edge to PrepScholar as having the better all-around SAT and ACT prep course.
Which prep course is better, PrepScholar or Princeton Review?
We rate the prep courses from both PrepScholar and Princeton Review extremely high, but ultimately, see PrepScholar as having the better overall SAT and ACT prep program.
What’s the difference between PrepScholar and Princeton Review?
The primary difference between PrepScholar and Princeton Review seems to be the nature of their lessons. Whereas PrepScholar offers combined written and text lessons that go deeper, Princeton Review offers more engaging video-based lessons that hold your attention.
Do both Princeton Review and PrepScholar have score increase guarantees?
Yes. Both companies offer score increase guarantees, with PrepScholar generally offering more generous promises.