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Kaplan DAT Prep Review
Our expert team’s detailed evaluation of the DAT prep course from Kaplan
When it comes to studying for the DAT, nobody has prepped more students over the years than Kaplan. They offer a deep curriculum backed by years of teaching experience and a mountain of study materials. But just because a company has been at it a long time and offers a boatload of resources, does that make them the best? We take a deep dive and look closely at Kaplan’s DAT prep course in this detailed review.
No matter how many resources a company provides, or the quality of their practice problems, nothing matters more than the structure of their course. Getting fully prepared to crush the DATrequires effective material comprehension and retention. There’s just no way around it. And that is all driven by course structure.
And after taking the Kaplan live online DAT prep course, I can say that their curriculum is superb. The learning modules, which are grouped around sections of the exam, integrate perfectly together and naturally build on the fundamentals out to the more complex topics. The combination of video lessons, assigned homework, drills, quizzes and more is just plain solid, and I found it to be highly effective for retaining info and strategies.
Honestly, in my opinion, when it comes to the DAT prep space, Kaplan’s coursework is rivaled only by Princeton Review. Their lesson plans are thoughtfully-designed and contain all the necessary content review you need, but with a nice mix of strategy tips and tricks along the way. To put it simply, Kaplan offers one of the more robust prep packages I’ve come across in DAT prep and I was very impressed by the substantive content.
Kaplan DAT Practice Tests & Questions
One of the keys to DAT success is practicing under exam-like conditions. From mastering pacing, to understanding how the content is going to be tested, to employing strategies, nothing prepares you faster and better for the DAT than simply taking a bunch of realistic practice exams. And to be clear – I mean doing so under real, exam-like conditions.
Fortunately, Kaplan offers a ton of opportunity for practice, as they boast 7 full-length practice tests. That is three more than rival Princeton and generally speaking, plenty to get ready for test day. But beyond the quantity, I was also pretty impressed with the quality of these practice exams. I found the questions to be really close to actual DAT problems in terms of difficulty, length, content tested and more. They were just a close replica, which is a huge benefit.
In addition to the practice tests, Kaplan also allows for some freeform practice through their Qbank. Basically the Qbank is a library if 1,500+ practice questions, where you can make custom quizzes for yourself at anytime based on subject, timing, difficulty and some other factors. If you an experiential learner and love to just learn by doing, this is a great opportunity. You can zero in your weak spots (like PAT questions) and hammer those problem types. And the nice thing is that these Qbank questions are of the same high quality as the practice exam questions.
However, one of my beefs with the Kaplan course has to do with the accompanying problem explanations. Every practice question comes with a brief text explanation demonstrating why the answer choice is correct or incorrect. Now, this is where the real learning comes, and Kaplan just falls a little flat. I found their explanations to be a little thin and not offer as much detail as I was hoping for. Interestingly though, this is the same qualm I had with the Princeton Review course. It’s actually kind of eerie how similar these two prep packages are.
In any event, I’d also just note that throughout the online coursework and assigned homework from class, there are quizzes embedded along then way. These quizzes focus in on particular topics and test what you just learned. So basically, between the practice tests, Qbank and intermittent quizzes, there is just a ton of opportunity for practice throughout the Kaplan course.
Kaplan DAT Books: Our Thoughts
People are always wondering what company makes the best DAT prep book and how important they are to your prep – or whether you can get away with one as standalone study tool without the full course. To start with that last thought, I always recommend a course. Books just didn’t provide the substantive content review you need for the DAT, and offer less practice work. I see them more as a supplement.
As for the Kaplan DAT book specifically, I was a pretty big fan. So Kaplan offers its own standalone prep book on Amazon – the DAT Prep Plus – which I really like, but this book doesn’t come with the prep course. Instead, when you go with the full prep course, you get a different Kaplan prep book. But don’t freak out, the lesson book you do get is essentially the same, but re-packaged with more practice work.
It is full of content review, sample practice problems, strategies and more. So it’s really the same. It just follows a slightly different structure to align with your full class, and actually goes a little deeper I think. But bottom line, I am huge fan of the Kaplan DAT prep books and our team rates them out as about the best in the category.
Kaplan DAT Classes
Kaplan offers two class formats: a self-paced course, where you drive your own studies, or a live online course that is built around live class sessions. If you opt for the slightly more expensive live online course, you get to attend 36 hours of live lectures.
These are all streamed online through Kaplan’s digital platform, and act sort of like any other online class you’ve taken. In my opinion, they are fantastic. The instructors are super knowledgeable and go to great lengths to make sure students are get getting their money’s worth. Plus, they seem to offer side tips and strategies that aren’t contained in the lesson book.
Personally, I think these classes are perfect for students that need structure and accountability in their studies. If you struggle at all with getting motivated and self-studying, you should definitely consider upping the ante for these classes. I do think they’re worth it.
But if you’re the type of student that does fine working alone in your bedroom, the Kaplan self-paced option is rock solid as well in my opinion. Their video lessons are great. They feature your instructor onscreen and as they give their lesson, they markup slides on screen demonstrating points. It’s not the highest quality production value in a video lesson I’ve seen, but they are dang good.
User Experience & Digital Platform
I’ve seen a lot of prep courses and digital platforms over the years, and Kaplan is consistently one of the best. They just have the resources and army of web developers to do it right.
Their user interface is clean and modern, with responsive functionality. There’s lot of pops of bright colors and clearly labeled tabs, so it’s all very pleasant and easy to navigate. You can just tell they’ve dropped a ton of time and money on making sure their portal is top notch.
If there is one small complaint here, it’s that every time you open up a new video lesson, or practice quiz, or whatever function you’re looking at, it opens in a new tab. So by the time you’re done with like 3 hours of studying, you have zillion tabs open and can’t remember what’s what. A small complaint, but worth noting.
Kaplan’s Money Back Guarantee
So in the event you take the full Kaplan course and your DAT score doesn’t improve, Kaplan does have a money back guarantee. Now there is some fine print around baseline scores and finishing certain thresholds of work, so check that out, but it’s not a bad promise. I mean, it’s not as good as Princeton Review’s promise of a score of 20 or better, but also not many other competitors back up their prep with a guarantee. So I like this as an insurance policy, but don’t bank on using it.
Verdict: Kaplan DAT Prep Course
Overall, I was really impressed with the Kaplan DAT course. It offers an absolute mountain of study resources. From the 36 hours of live class time, to another 36 hours of recorded video lessons, and thousands of practice problems. Not to mention the workshops, drills and 7 full-length tests. It’s just a lot. But more so than anything with Kapan, I was impressed with the quality of their practice work and the overall structure of the course.
I just found Kaplan to offer highly realistic practice material, and thought the curriculum structure was optimized for material retention. I did have some minor complaints around answer solutions and user experience, but by and large, this is a fantastic prep course. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, and think it should do the job for most students seeking to get a top tier, 20+ score.