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Magoosh GRE Prep Review
An in-depth look at the Magoosh GRE prep course
When it comes to GRE test prep, there are a lot of course options – but none are as budget friendly or flexible as the Magoosh GRE prep course. Their prep options are highly affordable, while still seeming to offer most of the same resources as other test prep companies. So what’s the catch? We take a deep dive in evaluating the Magoosh GRE prep course in this review and analyze that very question.
Magoosh’s GRE prep offerings and their pricing are simple and straightforward. They offer two plans – a 1 Month Premium plan that costs approximately $149, and a 6 Month Premium course that costs around $179. That’s it. Really.
Magoosh lists the “regular” price of its 6 Month Premium plan as $894 on its website (with $715 off), but we have seen the $179 rate offered just about year-round, so not sure how much of a special that is.
Relative to the cost of other test prep companies’ courses, Magoosh’s price points are an absolute steal. Their prep packages cost a fraction of what other courses run, while still offering many of the same study materials (more on that to come). This is where Magoosh differentiates itself from the crowd in the GRE test prep space. They are the value course option that provides bang for the buck. So bargain hunters, pay attention.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Quality and Quantity of Magoosh GRE Study Materials
While priced at around ¼ of the cost of some other test prep companies’ courses, Magoosh still manages to offer some great study resources. Not to mince words, the level of resources they offer are not nearly as robust as others, but may be all you need to get the job done.
With Magoosh, there is no traditional “core curriculum” that you work through like other courses, with each lesson building on the last. Rather, Magoosh gives you everything you need to study for the exam, but in more of a library type format.
Need to learn about roots and exponents for the quant section? They have a video lesson on it followed by practice problems. Need to know about sentence completions? They have video lessons on that as well. In short, they cover all the topics that the GRE spans, but in a one-off library style approach. To be clear, they do offer a recommended order of working through lessons, but there is no real rhyme or reason to it. Though I did follow the order of lessons they presented and it does flow naturally.
The structure/order of the lessons aside, the lessons themselves are actually very helpful. They are broken down into modules by topic (e.g. Powers and Roots, Sentence Equivalence, etc.), and within each module there is a video lesson or two followed by a short practice set.
The video lessons are of average production value, but the substance is excellent. There is no instructor that appears on screen. Instead, you are shown a digital white board where the instructor works problems and writes notes as they verbalize the lesson. Essentially, it’s like a dynamic PowerPoint slideshow with a voiceover and notes being dropped onto the screen. So not the fanciest video lesson I’ve seen (not by a long shot), but the content is definitely present.
The instructors clearly know their stuff and do a good job presenting it. They select solid example problems and take their time as they work through the material, breaking down complex topics into understandable chunks. I personally really liked the substance of the videos, even if the production was ‘meh.’ And to be totally honest, I didn’t even really mind that the production value was just alright – it limited a lot of the distraction that you sometimes get with other more interactive videos that try a little too hard.
Below each video lesson there is a full transcript of what the instructor is saying, with highlights that move along with where the instructor is in the lesson. This is a nice little feature, especially for quickly catching a phrase or sentence you missed or just seeing how much is left. There is also a notes function that allows you to take notes as you listen, which I personally really like. It is completely digital and you can jot down a few quick thoughts that you can later pull up easily from the dashboard to review.
Following each video lesson there is a short practice set to reinforce what you just learned. These are usually just sets of 5-10 problems and generally relate to the material you just covered, though not always. The functionality of these practice problems is excellent, and makes for a nice repeatable 1-2 punch: lesson, practice problems, lesson, practice problems…. you get the picture.
Beyond the problems that follow each video lesson, Magoosh also offers a superb customizable practice problem function, which I actually think is one of their coolest and most appealing features. You can create custom practice sets by problem type, difficulty, number of problems, timing, etc. These customizable practice sessions can be done in practice mode, which allows you to view the problem explanation after each problem, or quiz mode, which gives the explanations at the end of the set. Either way, you get some great problem explanations with each problem Magoosh offers.
The only downside of Magoosh’s practice questions is the quantity. They only offer 1,400 or so practice problems, while others like Kaplan and Manhattan Prep offer thousands more – in fact, Manhattan Prep offers around 100,000. But quantity aside, the quality and delivery of Magoosh’s problems is first-rate.
Each problem is followed by a video explanation of the problem, a text explanation, suggested lessons that cover it, and the trusty notes feature. These problem explanations – particularly the video explanations – are top notch and a true value add. Some of the big boys in the GRE test prep space don’t even offer this level of detail for each question. The videos are of the same general nature as the lessons (i.e. digital whiteboard), but do a great job breaking down each problem and answer choice into a 1- to 3-minute clip. And the text explanations, while essentially a transcript of the video, are still really helpful. In my opinion, this is one of Magoosh’s biggest selling points outside of price.
The last feature in the coursework realm worth mentioning is Magoosh’s review function. This feature allows you to take a snapshot look at how you’re performing at any moment in time – what total % of questions you’ve gotten correct, your average pace and others’ average pace. All of this can be filtered down by a bunch of different variables to provide targeted analysis of where exactly you need to improve and work harder. And it even breaks it down further to the individual question level so you can jump right into a question you previously got wrong and review the explanation. This is a really nice feature that adds significant value in terms of monitoring progress.
All in all, while the structure of the course curriculum doesn’t feel as developed as other test prep companies’ courses and the video lesson production quality is below average, the Magoosh GRE prep package is fairly impressive, especially given its price point. The substantive content of the lessons is dead on, the customizable practice sessions are a superb feature, and the problem explanations are right up there with (and maybe even better than) some of the big players. I was personally very impressed with the overall quality of the study materials provided.
Magoosh GRE Practice Tests
In addition to the coursework described above, Magoosh offers its users 3 full-length practice tests. These tests are computer-adaptive and intended to mimic the real GRE. They are taken right in the Magoosh digital platform and do offer a real GRE feel. As you take the test, you can tell aesthetically it is a Magoosh product (with the fonts and colors), but it acts like a real GRE exam. And the adaptability tech built into the platform works just fine.
Now, in terms of quantity, Magoosh’s 3 tests are not as many as its competitors – in fact, Princeton Review leads this test prep space with 8 full-length practice tests. But this is still a respectable figure. At the end of the day, I’d like to see Magoosh offer more, but like the number of practice questions, this is part of the tradeoff in getting a value course. For many students though, 3 tests may be enough (and there are a few free resources online that offer one free GRE practice test if you need extras).
Wait, There’s No Books?
It should come as no real surprise based on the price point of the Magoosh GRE course that you get no hardcopy prep books with this prep package. It is 100% online. But that is also part of Magoosh’s pitch – they are a digital first test prep company that allows you to study from anywhere, at any time, on any device. Everything you need is a click away. For some students like me that like a good old-fashioned workbook to take notes in, it’s a bit of a bummer. But for everybody else, this is no big deal at all, and may actually be a plus.
Dashboard, User Experience and Interface
We’ve talked a lot about the content that Magoosh delivers, but what about the form of the delivery? How is the interface and user experience? Well, to be honest, it’s pretty dang good. The dashboard is clean, simple and offers direct access to useful tools. From the homepage you’re provided suggested lessons which you can dive right into with a click.
You’re also given “Quick Practice” options, which allow you to jump right into a practice problem set with one click. I love this feature because it’s right there in front of you when you log in and you can be working practice questions within 3 seconds. I am a huge fan of that function on the dashboard. Lastly, there is a performance tracker that monitors your progress with some sleek pie charts and data. It will show you your progress from a timing and percentage correct standpoint, as well as how you stack up against your peers. Overall, the look is sharp and the functionality is even better.
The rest of the user experience is pretty solid as well. The sections are so intuitive a chimp could work this site, but still maintains a professional look and feel. As mentioned above, the video production quality is not great, and there is not likely anything that’s going to change that with this being a budget course, but the functionality around the video themselves is worthy of praise.
No Live Classes
Similar to the books, Magoosh does not offer any live, in-person classes (or live online for that matter). Everything is pre-recorded and on demand for your viewing pleasure. This is part of the reason why Magoosh can offer such affordable pricing on their plans – they don’t have the same overhead and brick and mortar costs as other test prep companies. Whether this will matter to you totally depends on the type of student and learner you are. If you need an in-person course, one of the more traditional prep classes that rank on our list of best GRE prep courses may be better suited for you. But if you’re fine studying at home on your own pace, Magoosh may be a great fit.
Magoosh GRE Flashcards and Other Resources
Generally speaking, value prep courses translate to thin supplemental resources. However, that is not the case with Magoosh. They offer a smattering of really cool and genuinely helpful resources. Among them you will find:
Study plans and schedules
A vocabulary builder tool
And other test tips under the general resource category
I have to admit that I was frankly surprised at the level of resources Magoosh offers. My favorite add on is the mobile app (more on that below), but the custom study plans are also a great feature. They provide suggested study schedules for a wide range of timeframes, from one week up to 6 months. These are detailed – a lot more detailed than I thought they’d be – and are a great jumping off point for students. You likely won’t follow these down to the day, but can provide a great roadmap of your planned studies.
While Magoosh doesn’t offer any direct private tutoring packages, they do have 24/7 email support from a team of in-house GRE experts. If you get hung up on a problem or want clarification on a lesson, you just have to email them and they’ll get back to you quickly.
In my experience, this isn’t just a line they’re feeding you. Your question will actually be picked up by a Magoosh GRE pro, but it may take a little time. I sent a question in around 4pm and had an answer the next day around 10 in the morning. Not a bad turnaround, but not exactly 24/7. That said, the answer was plenty detailed and I was satisfied with the response. Just don’t go abusing this function like you have a private tutor.
Content Access Periods
You get two content access options with Magoosh GRE prep – 1 month or 6 months. Simple enough.
As mentioned in the pricing section above, if you can pick up the 6-month course at their regularly discounted rate of around $179, it’s only a few bucks more than the 1-month plan. So, unless you’re truly just doing some last-minute studying, it’s almost always going to be worth upgrading to the 6-month plan. 6 months should provide ample time to get your studying done and be fully prepared for the GRE.
Magoosh’s Mobile App
Unlike some of its more expensive rivals, Magoosh offers a mobile app for its students. This app contains quant and verbal flashcards, as well as some practice problems and progress trackers. It is actually kind of surprising how much they crammed into this app. It is available for both iOS and Android.
Now don’t go thinking this mobile app is a direct counterpart to the online Magoosh course – it isn’t. The mobile app is intended to be a supplement to the course to allow you free access to materials, particularly when you’re on the move. The content is much more limited on the app and does not compete with Magoosh’s online platform.
That said, I was actually pretty pleased with this app. It operates smoothly and offers some decent resources. I especially found the verbal flashcards to be effective. Working math problems on a tiny iPhone screen can get tedious, but the vocab flashcards are a perfect fit for this type of function.
Magoosh’s Score Increase Guarantee
For those students that are looking for a little insurance when it comes to improving your score on the GRE, Magoosh has your back. They offer a guaranteed 5-point score increase, or your money back. You must have taken the GRE previously to qualify for this guarantee (as well as some other requirements), but assuming you have, they got you. If you haven’t taken the GRE before, you’re out of luck with respect to the guarantee, but for those that qualify, this is a nice confidence booster.
Is There a Refund Policy?
Yes. Magoosh offers a 7-day money back refund policy. If you’re not totally happy with their product, just shoot them an email and they’ll get you refunded. No strings attached. No questions asked. It’s that easy. When comparing prep companies, this isn’t the most important factor, but it’s always nice to have a cool-off period in case you change your mind.
Verdict: Magoosh GRE Prep Course
Most budget test prep courses are no frills, barebones courses that give you limited study material and no resources. But that’s not Magoosh. True, they are a value course and their format is online only with no prep books. But they offer so much more than that. Magoosh’s video lessons, while not of the best production quality from an aesthetic standpoint, provide you everything you need to learn for the GRE from a content perspective and are delivered by highly knowledgeable GRE pros. In addition, their customizable practice question sets and problem explanations are right on par with (and maybe even better than) some of the bigger companies. And they give you a bunch of great resources to boot.
The quantity of study material they provide – 1,400 practice questions and 3 practice tests – is fairly limited when seen side-by-side with competitors’ offerings. But if you don’t need crazy amounts of material to adequately prepare, the coursework itself is spot on. The bottom line is that Magoosh is a budget friendly value course that provides serious bang for your buck. If you’re looking for a flexible, on demand course and a library of solid prep material, Magoosh may be perfect for you.
How much do Magoosh GRE prep packages cost?
Magoosh has two GRE prep packages – a 1 Month Premium subscription that costs around $149 and a 6 Month Premium package that can typically be found on sale for around $179.
Does Magoosh have in-person classes?
No. Magoosh’s GRE prep course is 100% online. Everything is taught through their digital platform.
Will my score increase with Magoosh GRE prep?
Magoosh offers a money back, 5-point score increase guarantee. If your score doesn’t jump by at least 5 points with their course, they’ll give you your money back.