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Kaplan GMAT Review

Our in-depth review of the newly combined and rebranded Manhattan Prep GMAT Powered By Kaplan prep course

Kaplan has owned Manhattan Prep for a long time, but just recently merged their own GMAT course with Manhattan’s, giving the companies together just one combined GMAT prep program. We liked both programs before the merge, but did we still like the new combined course after re-purchasing and re-reviewing? Let’s find out in this detailed review.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Live Course

Kaplan GMAT

  • Self-Paced or Live Classes
  • Includes Prep Books
  • Self-Paced or Live Classes
  • Includes Prep Books
Our Score


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  • Stellar video lessons that hold your attention and cover everything on the exam
  • Six mock exams with official questions from past exams
  • Detailed prep books offer tons of actionable tips
  • The Kaplan/Manhattan Prep GMAT instructors are strong communicators
  • Foundations of Math workshops are great if you need quant help
  • Organized course structure that is intuitive and easy to follow
  • Have to jump back and forth between books and portal to review problems
  • Progress tracking log is kind of a pain (must manually enter data and follow)
Manhattan Prep GMAT Prep
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Outline: Kaplan GMAT Review

As this is a pretty lengthy review that covers a number of topics, above find a helpful jump-to table of contents for your convenience.

Video Review: Kaplan/Manhattan Prep GMAT Prep

In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team (who scored a 700 on the GMAT) walks you through the major pros and cons of the Kaplan and Manhattan Prep GMAT prep courses.

📢 UPDATE: Before diving in, it’s important to note that Kaplan has officially merged their GMAT course with Manhattan Prep’s, and formed a newly combined prep package. As such, you will now see the GMAT courses from each company labeled as “Manhattan Prep Powered By Kaplan.” In this review, I may use the names Kaplan and Manhattan Prep interchangeably, as there is only one course between them now. Just know that I am referring to the same prep program.

Kaplan GMAT Course Options & Pricing

To begin, I want to quickly cover Kaplan GMAT’s course options and pricing, as it will help to provide some context for my notes below on course features. Kaplan technically offers four course options, but there are only two that really matter.

The Kaplan “GMAT Complete Course” costs $1,850. This is the version of their course with live classroom instruction (27 hours across 9 weeks).

The other popular format is the “GMAT Focus On Demand.” This package retails for $850, a full $1,000 cheaper.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Dashboard
The program dashboard

The only real difference between the two options is the 27 hours of live class time. Whether that $1,000 step up in price will be worth it to you will turn on your individual situation. I’ll discuss the live classes in more detail below.

For comparison purposes, however, the Kaplan/Manhattan Prep course options are slightly cheaper than rival Princeton Review, but more expensive than budget prep providers like Magoosh and Target Test Prep.

Review of Kaplan’s GMAT Coursework

When you consider what makes the Kaplan/Manhattan Prep combination different from other test prep companies like PrepScholar, think video-based lessons. The quality of Manhattan’s online video instruction can’t be matched.

You get over 100 hours of pre-recorded video lectures in total, and they are my favorite in the GMAT prep space. Manhattan Prep’s lessons are truly well-designed and are an incredibly effective teaching tool.

Part of the reason these video-based lessons are so effective is that the production quality is first-rate. It is abundantly clear that Kaplan and Manhattan thinks that video is the future of GMAT prep, as they have invested heavily in the quality and scope of these video-based lessons.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Video Lesson
One of the video lessons

The video lectures are generally pre-recorded lessons from live classes, but you can tell they cherry pick the best live sessions to use as on demand lectures. The instructors make very salient points, the students in the class all actively participate, and you feel like you’re right in the classroom with them.

After watching a lesson on a certain topic, if I later came across a practice problem that touched on the same subject matter, my mind was drawn back to the video. It really improved my recall ability, so I tip my hat to the curriculum designers on that aspect.

Not only is the delivery of the lesson solid, but the substantive content is as well. Manhattan Prep has done their homework when it comes to designing their curriculum.

The lessons span every concept that will be tested on the GMAT Focus and are very detailed. Not only that, the flow of the curriculum is natural and builds on itself, making for an effective means of learning. The material is thorough, well-structured, and all-around dead on. The bottom line here is that I loved the lessons.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Problem Solutions
Problem explanation in the Navigator portal

Beyond the video, however, the remainder of the coursework is solid, though not as engaging as the video lessons. I guess the entire process can’t be super engaging. 🤷

After the video lesson in each module, you’re assigned reading from one of the Manhattan Prep GMAT books, as well as a few sets of practice problems.

The reading assignments are a little dry, but highly effective in my opinion. The textbooks are well-written and make good use of sample problems, but it’s just plain hard to make assigned readings fun.

The practice problems are actually official questions from past exams, and I was super happy with them. Hard to complain when you’re practicing on official problems from past exams.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Math Diagnostic
Math diagnostic to assess quant skills

Surrounding the practice problems though, Kaplan utilizes a program called GMAT Navigator to provide problem explanations and track your progress. This tool breaks down each problem and provides clear explanations of why a correct answer is correct and why an incorrect answer is incorrect.

Apparently, Manhattan Prep is not allowed to show practice problems themselves in the portal for copyright reasons (🤷), so you have to work the problems in your book, then jump over to the digital platform to review.

Overall, the explanations were fantastic, but the jumping back and forth thing between textbook and Navigator portal was kind of a pain.

Bottom line, I was really impressed with the quality of Kaplan/Manhattan Prep’s GMAT lessons, curriculum and coursework (particularly the videos). Their video-based instruction is currently the pinnacle of digital content in the GMAT test prep space and should serve as a road map for other GMAT prep companies as they upgrade their video lessons.

Kaplan GMAT Practice Tests

Kaplan and Manhattan Prep’s practice tests are the real deal. I say that because they literally license their practice exams straight from GMAC, the makers of the exam.

It’s hard to beat real problems from past exams. It is the highest form of practice work, and you can’t complain at all.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Practice test
Kaplan uses official practice tests

Three mock exams you will take over the course of the first nine weeks of the program, then you will take three more in the final two weeks. They backweight half of the exams for the final couple of weeks so you can condition yourself for the real thing down the home stretch.

Moreover, as noted above, the problem explanations for every question on the test are great. They are detailed, insightful and packed with useable info. However, that review process is a bit annoying with having to use different resources to review.

Kaplan GMAT Prep Books

In addition to the digital content, Kaplan also provides six prep books to all of its students, which you can either get in free eBook form or print format for a small fee.

👉 Side Note: I would get the print version of the books. It’s worth the extra small charge. With having top jump back and forth between digital portal and books, the print books worked out better for me than the eBooks. The eBook software kind of stinks.

Manhattan Prep GMAT eBook
The books are great but the eBook software itself isn’t very good

These GMAT books together make for a powerful prep resource. Combined, they cover overall test taking strategies, GMAT section-specific techniques and tricks, lessons on foundational principles, practice problems, and more. I am a huge fan of these prep books from Manhattan.

While each covers different material, across all books you get coverage of every possible angle for attacking the GMAT—substantive material, strategies and practice. They are thorough and well written, and provide a significant value add. Not every test prep company provides course books, and very few provide hardcopy books with such robust coverage.

Digital Platform

Following suit with their online video instruction, the Kaplan/Manhattan Prep user interface and experience is top-notch. The dashboard is very modern and clean, and easy to navigate.

Handled through a platform called Atlas, the Kaplan/Manhattan digital platform reminds me of a high-end gaming system multiplayer lobby. For those that aren’t gaming nerds, that’s a good thing. It’s dark, sleek and very responsive. It is very pleasing visually and I love the snappiness as you click through features.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Video Lectures
Another video lecture

In addition, the platform is very easy to navigate. Everything is steered through the bar on the left side of the screen. You are clearly directed to lessons, practice tests, resources, and more.

If I had one quibble with this layout, it’s that the buttons that link you to the various landing pages aren’t labeled (they’re just icons). It would be a little easier if they were labeled with text, but it’s not the end of the world.

Kaplan’s Live GMAT Classes

For those of you contemplating taking Kaplan’s GMAT Complete Course with live instruction, it very well may be worth it. As noted above, it is $1,000 more than the self-paced course, but you get all the same content plus some really good in-class instruction.

Kaplan’s classes are taught by some of the best instructors in the business in my opinion. They are all 99th percentile GMAT scorers and have undergone additional teaching training with Manhattan.

In my personal experience, all Kaplan/Manhattan Prep instructors seem to have a humorous side. I am not sure if that is a hiring criterion for the company, but it kind of seems like it. I’ve taken multiple Kaplan/Manhattan courses now and this seems to be a constant.

You may be thinking “why do I care if my instructor is funny?”. Good question. I think it’s critically important that instructors keep the material they are teaching light and interesting. If you have some monotone instructor at the front of the classroom lecturing at you, you’re not going to remember a thing (think Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

Kaplan GMAT meme

Moreover, you get 27 hours of live instruction across 9 sessions, so you want to make sure you have an engaging teacher, as that’s a lot of time together.

My recommendation would be to ante up for the live GMAT course with Kaplan if you need to be held accountable. If you know you’re going to slack off in your studies, your instructor will keep you committed and having a fixed schedule helps.

My virtual classroom experience was very positive. The class was fairly small and I was lucky to have some pretty smart and interesting classmates.

There was no real ego among the students, so it made for a great experience. The instruction was first-rate, the discussions were lively, and I got access to material and side tips I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Extra Study Resources

On top of the lessons, books and general coursework, Kaplan offers some pretty decent additional resources to students as well. Among these extras, you will get:

  • Student forum to ask questions
  • 1:1 pre-and-post exam assessments with a GMAT instructor
  • Progress trackers
  • Foundations of Math workshops

Of these supplemental add-ons, the most beneficial is likely the workshop classes covering GMAT math. This workshop is very instructive about some of the most basic math concepts that you will see time and time again on the quant section of the exam.

Manhattan Prep GMAT Foundations of Math Workshop
Foundations of Math workshop

These workshops are offered frequently, so they are very well-designed and vetted at this point.

The student forums are also a nice feature, but likely not as beneficial as you think. It’s kind of like a subreddit for GMAT and the responses seem a little slow.

The feedback from Manhattan Prep’s instructors on these message boards is definitely detailed and well-articulated, but it’s just not the same as having direct access to your teacher.

Kaplan’s GMAT Mobile App

Of all the prep courses that say they offer a mobile app, very few actually offer anything of note. Most apps are clunkers that serve the purpose of allowing the company to say they have an app. But not Kaplan/Manhattan Prep, at least with respect to its GMAT mobile app.

The Manhattan Prep mobile app is well-designed and genuinely helpful. It offers practice questions (the same you will find in your online content), as well as quizzes, flashcards, progress trackers, and strategy lessons.

Manhattan does a great job packing a lot of content and practice into a little app. For those on the go and with downtime on buses or between classes, this is a fantastic tool. Unlike others we’ve seen, it adds true value.

Does Kaplan Have a Score Improvement Guarantee?

Unfortunately, Kaplan/Manhattan Prep does not offer a score improvement guarantee for its GMAT prep course. This is somewhat disappointing given that other GMAT prep companies offer such assurances, but Kaplan/Manhattan believes score improvement falls on the shoulder of the student, not their course.

Verdict: Kaplan GMAT Prep Course Review

Kaplan/Manhattan Prep’s GMAT course is one of the best in the industry in my opinion. They’ve made some very nice updates for the GMAT Focus format of the exam, and I think their prep program remains one of the more robust packages on the market.

With top-shelf video instruction, killer prep books, official practice material, and some best-in-category instructors, there’s a lot to like. So all in all, I was extremely impressed with the Manhattan Prep GMAT courses powered by Kaplan and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to students.

👉 Next: Best GMAT Course Rankings


Are the Kaplan and Manhattan GMAT prep courses the same?

Yes, although Kaplan has owned Manhattan Prep for years, the company recently adopted the Manhattan Prep GMAT courses as their own (i.e., the old Kaplan GMAT courses no longer exist and there is just one merged GMAT course for both companies).

How much does the Kaplan GMAT prep course cost?

The Kaplan GMAT prep packages range in price from around $850 to $1,850 depending on format, level of access, and whether tutoring is involved.

How many live classroom hours do I get with Kaplan?

If you purchase the GMAT Complete Course from Kaplan, you will get 27 hours of live online instruction across 9 sessions. The classes meet once per week for three hours.

Is the Kaplan GMAT prep course worth it?

In my opinion, Kaplan offers one of the best GMAT courses on the market. Their biggest highlight is probably the course structure and detailed syllabus, but the course is also carried by its strong prep books and video lessons.