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Target Test Prep GRE Review
Our expert team’s thoughts on the Target Test Prep GRE course
When staring down the prospect of dropping thousands of dollars on grad school, the last thing students want to do is spend another $1,000+ on an expensive GRE prep course. Instead, they want value, and as such, many look to Target Test Prep’s GRE prep package. With a 100% digital course that employs smart, adaptive technology, there’s a lot to like on paper. But at just a few hundred dollars, is this prep course effective? We answer just that question in this detailed review.
Let’s kick this review off by briefly discussing Target Test Prep’s pricing structure and different options. After all, Target Test Prep (often called TTP) is a budget prep provider that a lot of students are drawn to simply because of their low price points. So with TTP, you’ve got three prep options:
GRE Flexible Prep
GRE Dedicated Prep
GRE Maximum Learning
These three packages are essentially the exact same, but differ in only two ways: cost and length of access. The GRE Flexible Prep is a monthly subscription plan that runs for around $150/month (though we often see it on sale for less). Then at the next level up, the GRE Dedicated Prep option carries a one-time price tag of around $450 (though again, often found for less), and offers 4 months of access to TTP’s materials. Then finally, you’ve got the GRE Maximum Learning package, which costs about $500 and gives you six months of prep time (and yes, also often found on sale for much less).
So there you have it. Target Test Prep’s GRE offerings are pretty straightforward, and affordable, particularly when you factor in their frequent discounts and promos.In comparison to other prep providers, it’s a touch more expensive than the likes of Magoosh and Achievable, but more approachably priced than say Manhattan Prep or Princeton Review. Overall, it’s a middle of the road-priced package.
Pricing and course options current as of date of publication.
Our Thoughts: Target Test Prep’s GRE Prep Materials
Before we get deep into the analysis of what our team thinks of this course, I would just start by noting that Target Test Prep’s GRE prep package is heavy on the Quant section. For whatever reason, their content covering the Analytical Writing and Verbal sections is just much lighter, and Quant is the clear focus.
If the Verbal section is your strength and don’t really need too much help in that area, then you’ll be just fine with TTP. After all, Quant is by far the hardest section of the GRE, and is generally what gives most students fits as they prep. (I mean everyone reads and writes every day, but when was the last time you solved a quadratic equation?).
But for those of you who do need a more comprehensive prep package that gives Verbal (as well as AW) more focus, then you may want to check out out our reviews of Magoosh and Achievable. They are both highly-rated, affordable courses that provide pretty equal weight across all sections of the GRE. Otherwise, let’s get down to business.
The first thing that struck me when logging into my TTP account was how clean their digital platform is. Their dashboard is smartly organized, with clear tabs at the top directing you to your different prep resources and tools. It’s a responsive and well-designed portal that I was really pleased with.
And as for the substantive material, I like how Target Test Prep has opted to organize their curriculum. Essentially you get 40 study units (they call them “modules”) across 2 “phases.” Phase 1 houses the first 33 units, and Phase 2 houses the remaining units.
The first Phase is all of your learning – meaning, content review, test taking skills, lessons, and general substantive learning. Then the second Phase is all about practice. Basically, the second phase is a series of 5 official GRE practice tests that you take and then review. You work through all 40 study units, and when you’ve finished, you’re ready to tackle the real exam.
I love the simplistic and straight-line style of their curriculum. Your personal study plan guides you each step of the way, and you have this clear, bright-line goal at the end to get to. I felt like this kept me motivated and on track.
Within each module, you have 4 separate components. The unit kicks off with a “review quiz,” where you answer a series of quiz questions that test you on material from past modules. This leverages the learning science principle of spaced repetition, ensuring you’re retaining early material as you move along. I love, love, loved this about the unit structure. Spaced repetition is incredibly powerful and I was glad to see TTP incorporate it.
Then in the second part of each study unit, you work your lessons. The lessons themselves are a series of short, text-based chapters that spoon feed you material on the given topic for that unit. There are somewhere between 10 and 30 lessons per unit, but they’re short and go fast. And each is broken up with sample problems.
In my opinion, this is actually the most effective part of the lessons. TTP hits you with a series of sample problems mid-lesson to make sure you’re paying attention and understanding. You answer them in order, and then each problem is followed by both a text and video solution. You read the model answer and watch the quick video, which is super helpful for visual learners. These video solutions are the “HD videos” you see referenced in the course specs, if you’ve done your research.
I found these video solutions to be fantastic in terms of substance, though a little dated in terms production quality. They’re essentially a problem on a digital whiteboard, where the instructor makes notes onscreen and tells you how to solve. From a content perspective, they’re great. The analysis is spot on and the instructor conveys things very clearly. But again, the picture is a little grainy and the visuals aren’t the best.
After you work through your lessons in the unit, you then take what TTP calls “chapter tests.” This is a series of quizzes that test you on what you just learned across three levels of difficulty: easy, medium and difficult. You need to answer a certain percentage of questions correctly in each of the three categories in order to move on.
Then finally, you wrap up with a review, where you go over the problems you missed and try to learn from your mistakes. You review each answer choice, where you went wrong, and take some quick notes to categorize your errors.
And that’s about it. Once you complete the four components within a unit, you move on to the next module. And it goes like that until you finish all 40 modules. So it’s really not a complicated prep structure, but it is effective. I loved the thorough but short lessons, and the classic pattern of “learn, practice, review.” Again, it’s simple, but highly effective. If I was left wanting anything, it was more video time, as the written lessons can get boring. But that said, the lessons themselves are spot on and the curriculum is super detailed.
GRE Practice Questions & Tests
In terms of the quality and realism of Target Test Prep’s GRE practice questions, I was very impressed. In total, you get access to over 3,100 practice problems. That’s a good amount, and especially impressive given the price of this course. But quantity aside, I really liked the realistic nature of their problems.
It’s clear TTP has invested significant time into mirroring the difficulty, length and content of real GRE questions. I generally had a hard time differentiating between their practice questions and the real ones on the exam.
And on the point of real exams, TTP only uses official GRE practice tests. So even though the practice questions in their Qbank and lessons are top notch, you still get real GRE exams to practice on. It probably goes without saying, but there is no better form of practice work than this. And maybe more importantly than the quantity and quality of practice material, is the accompanying solutions. Working practice questions is only one-half of the equation.
Reviewing practice problems, at least in my opinion, is much more important. Without feedback, you can never truly learn. And luckily, I was really impressed with TTP’s answer solutions. For one, you get them in both text and video format, which is great for text-based and visual learners. And for two, they’re just plain detailed and packed with tips.
All in all, I was really happy with the number of practice questions I got access to, as well as the quality of the practice work and the accompanying explanations to review.
No GRE Prep Books or Live Classes?
So this is where my negatives around the TTP course come in. There are no prep books or live classes. For some, this might not matter one bit. But for others, it could be a deal breaker. I personally love live classes. I can do fine with self-paced courses, but I do like the structure and accountability live classes bring.
And as for prep books, I usually like a good text, but am less concerned in TTP’s case. Their digital lessons sort of act as a book. If you printed out all these digital “chapters” and bound them, you’d actually have a killer textbook in its own right. It just doesn’t necessarily feel like it when it’s 100% digital and spread across a bunch of modules. But the written content is definitely there.
Whether these two things will matter to you totally depends on your situation and learning style. If you do want live classes though, I’d give Kaplan a good look. Their live online classes are money.
Supplemental Study Tools
Beyond the lessons, practice material and review sessions, TTP also offers a surprisingly decent roster of supplemental study tools. This includes an error tracker, detailed analytics, notes aggregator, equation guide, and fill-in-the-blank notes. Not bad, right? This is actually more than you get with some of the bigger players in the space, which is great considering the price point.
Of all of these, I’d say the most valuable is the analytics. TTP offers data on your performance that really digs deep and gives you metrics across a number of important categories. You can see your performance by problem type, pacing issues, and where you’re weak in chapter example problems. It’s some great analysis and can actually provide actionable takeaways.
For example, apparently I’m weak on ratios. I beg to differ, but that’s what the data says, and I do trust their metrics. So overall, I like the TTP supplemental tools, especially the analytics.
TTP Live Customer Support
As an added bonus for students, Target Test Prep offers live customer support. I heard that it was supposed to be “around the clock,” but really it seems to be business hours only. Fair enough. I put this to the test twice and was happy with the result both times. Once I sent in a question at 9pm, and got an answer at 9am the next morning. The answer was well written and provided some good night.
The other I sent in at 11am and got a response by 1pm, which I was pretty happy with. I found this one to also be a solid response with detailed analysis of why my understanding was off base.
To be clear, this is not a substitute for private tutoring. You can’t just sit on the chat line all day and ask questions. But if every so often you hit a problem you just can’t figure out, you should be able to get a response within a few hours from a TTP expert.
Content Access Period
How long you have access to your course materials for totally depends on which package you buy. You’ve got a dealer’s choice of month-to-month, 4 months or 6 months. I would just note that most GRE students spend about 3 months on their prep, but this varies widely by target score and weekly time availability to study.
Score Improvement Guarantee & Refunds
If you take the full TTP prep course and don’t score at least 1 point higher, they’ll give you a full cash refund. Yep, 100% of your money back. Now to be clear, that’s not the best guarantee we’ve seen. Magoosh offers a 5+ point score increase guarantee, and PrepScholar even boasts a guaranteed increase of at least 7 points. So not the sexiest improvement promise I’ve seen, but not bad either. Some courses Like Manhattan Prep don’t even offer a guarantee, so you can’t really complain.
Verdict: Target Test Prep GRE Prep Course
The Target Test Prep GRE course has a lot to offer. From its 40 high-yield learning modules, to 5 official GRE practice exams, to hundreds of video-based problem solutions, there’s just a lot to like. While I wasn’t thrilled about there being no prep books or live classes, and found the videos to be a little dry at times, the TTP course still really packs a punch. I love their smart, adaptive tech and streamlined lessons with built-in drills and example problems. Overall, it’s an impressive GRE prep course. At its reasonable price point, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with TTP if you need a serious boost to your baseline score.