A Review of Princeton Review (10 Things To Know)

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a review of princeton review - featured graphic

 

Princeton Review is one of the biggest college admissions and test preparation companies in the world. It started in 1981 and now employs over 300 full-time workers as well as 4000 teachers across the US and Canada.

 

In this article you’ll learn what it has to offer, what customers are saying, and how does it compare to other options on the market.

 

Table of contents:

 

Princeton Review – An introduction

1. The pricing of the courses

2. Opinions and reviews from students who took the courses

3. Is Princeton Review worth it?

4. The score improvement guarantee

5. The pros and cons of Princeton Review courses

6. Live-online vs. self-paced courses

7. Books and study materials from Princeton Review

8. How does Princeton Review compare to other courses available on the market?

9. The length of access to the courses

10. The Princeton Review mobile apps

A quick review of the MCAT prep courses

A quick review of the SAT / ACT prep courses

A quick review of the GRE / GMAT prep courses

A quick review of the LSAT prep courses

Conclusion

 

Princeton Review – An introduction

 

the princeton review logo

 

The company had a few market leadership issues over the years, as many new test-prep companies emerged in the digital world. But in 2017 it was acquired by ST Unitas, a South Korean ed-tech company for around $87 million. Since then, Princeton Review looks to be back on track with strong branding and an improved offer.

 

The test prep market is saturated at the moment and all companies struggle to remain competitive. Now, Princeton Review’s aim is to create a global online learning platform that’ll be better suited to the needs of modern students. In summary, its aim is to be cheaper, more effective, and fully-mobile adapted.

 

The company also works on creating a “local learning environment” and providing students with a more personalized study approach. The emphasis is put on live interaction in an online classroom as well as a big student portal where pupils and teachers interact.

 

This is now the strongest element of TPR’s offer. In the digital world, students need live communication to gain knowledge, but also to decrease anxiety and improve confidence. In other words, it’s not only about high-technology but also about personal relationships.

 

princeton review stats about different courses and the company

Statistics pulled from TPR website.

 

Now let’s review the 10 aspects of Princeton Review test-prep that’ll help to determine if the company is right for you.

 

1. The pricing of the courses

 

Many consumers see Princeton Review as a premium brand. And they’re right, but this doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible to an average consumer. Yes, across the test preparation landscape, TPR courses tend to be slightly higher priced than the competition. But usually, the difference is small (around $100 tops).

 

The thing is that “in-person” and “live-online” courses are more pricey in general. It’s because companies need to pay instructors, rent the classroom and cover other costs. But in the end, the service is more valuable and that’s why some high-end courses are priced  between $1500 and $2500. 

 

What most consumers don’t know, is that Princeton Review also offers a lot of self-paced courses that are affordable for most parents and students. Of course, you won’t get the benefits of the live instruction, but you’ll receive access to all the online materials, tons of on-demand videos, as well as printed materials.

 

Here are the current prices of the popular live-online and self-paced courses from TPR:

 

Princeton Review CoursePrice (live-online)Price (self-paced)
MCAT$2149$1599
SAT/ACT$799$299
GRE/GMAT$949$499
LSAT$1049$799

 

Note that the company occasionally offers extra discounts you can take advantage of by entering a coupon code from their website.

 

And here’s a pricing comparison between Princeton Review and other popular test-prep companies (self-paced):

 

Princeton Review (self-paced)Kaplan (self-paced)Prepscholar (self-paced)Magoosh (self-paced)
MCAT$1599$1799(does not apply)$99
SAT/ACT$299$299$399$99
GRE/GMAT$499$699$345$149
LSAT$799$799(does not apply)$149

 

2. Opinions and reviews from students who took the courses

 

The Princeton Review has a solid standing in the student community. It has a 4 out 5 score on Trustpilot with over 500+ reviews submitted. You may go there to get more information.

 

You’ll see that the majority of students are happy with the courses. But a few others had a bad experience – mostly due to a canceled course or some misunderstanding about the features of the course.

 

princeton review score on trustpilot

 

princeton review reviews scores for gre course

 

Below you can read a couple of honest opinions and reviews from students who participated in the Princeton Review courses. I pulled some of them from Quora and student forums:

 

TPR is great for prep. It covers all the theory you’d require in a friendly format. If you solve the questions provided in each chapter, you’ll have covered the syllabus. – Maitreyi Kale, 1540 (SAT), 35 (ACT)

 

It’s not “bad”, it just doesn’t really prepare you to get really good scores. The materials can prepare you to get up to a 30 (ACT) equivalent. Beyond that, you have to do a lot of your own studying outside of their provided materials. – Flatbear

 

I self-studied mainly with TPR and got a 516 (MCAT). I agree that the Psych and Soc need some work, but Khan covers that weakness. I bought extra tests, but the best were the AAMC question packs and the practice test. – Raidrette

 

I chose TPR over Kaplan because I heard (for the old one) content was better with TPR, though the interface was a bit glitchy at times. – Trad

 

Took the in-person course and I definitely recommend TPR. Obviously, the instructors are very area-dependent, but I had an excellent experience. The important point to understand is that regardless of what company you use, it’s a lot of self-directed studies. Princeton Review adds structure to the schedule, but it can only take you as far as you are willing to go. I received a 517 on the new MCAT – YCP

 

Books and tests by Princeton Review are really good for the preparation of GRE, GMAT, GMAT, etc. I felt they quite successfully simulated the actual exam environment and came close as far as the difficulty level of the questions were concerned. – Ishita Bhandari

 

I also took Princeton Review and recommend it highly. I felt they quite successfully simulated the actual exam environment and came close as far as the difficulty level of the questions were concerned. – Maribel Morrison

 

3. Is Princeton Review worth it?

 

Many students and parents are wondering if a premium option like Princeton Review is actually worth the money. As you saw above, there are a couple of lower-priced options on the market and after all, you can always decide to buy books and do the prep on your own.

 

That’s true, the live-online courses are pricey, but that’s nothing compared to average college tuition. If you pay $500 more for prep, but as a result, you get admitted into a top college in the US or Canada, that’s a good deal in my opinion.

 

Achieving a high score on the standardized tests is also a gateway to multiple merit-based scholarships. There are dozens of them ranging from $1000 to $15,000. And if you score high on a test and boast a great GPA, you can apply and pay your way through college without getting into debt.

 

Most students had positive experiences with the Princeton Review, and improved their scores significantly. Moreover, a company like TPR will also counsel you on the college admissions process which is worth a lot for many students.

 

But what about the other companies that offer prep courses? Their services are often of comparable quality (especially Kaplan). Also, you can always hire a private tutor for around $50 per hour. It all depends on your unique situation and needs.

 

But one of the best features of the TPR’s offer is the “improved score guarantee” about which you’ll find out next.

 

4. The score improvement guarantee

 

The improved score guarantee reduces your risk of participating in test-prep. If the course doesn’t deliver and you don’t improve on your previous score, you get your money back or you can take the whole course one more time at no extra cost.

 

This is a standard guarantee, offered by a couple of different test prep companies.

 

But the good thing about Princeton Review is that with some of their courses, they promise a specific score improvement that would put you in the top 20% of exam takers. This is much more powerful than the regular guarantee.

 

For example, with the MCAT course, you’ll get  a guarantee of at least 510 points.  For ACT, you’ll get a guarantee of 31 points, and for SAT 1400 points. Unfortunately, these sorts of guarantees are not available for GRE/GMAT or LSAT.

 

5. The pros and cons of Princeton Review courses

 

Let’s take a look at the major advantages and disadvantages of taking a course with TPR.

 

Pros:

 

  • High-quality live-online and self-paced courses for all major standardized tests.
  • A great mobile app, including the “student portal” and the “parent portal”.
  • Big-data, technology-driven approach to learning which automatically recognizes areas where you can improve the most.
  • Thousands of practice questions, and dozens of full-length practice tests (including proctored ones).
  • Good books including extra materials and strategies.
  • Assistance with college admissions and rankings.
  • Strong, performance-based guarantees.
  • Essay-review services included with certain courses.

 

Cons:

 

  • Lack of good in-person, classroom courses.
  • Sometimes classes get canceled and you have to wait for another date.
  • Slightly higher prices than the competition.
  • Sometimes lacks prompt customer service.
  • You won’t always get a teacher with many years of experience.
  • Access to the online platform could be a bit longer (usually it’s around 4 months).

 

6. Live-online vs. self-paced courses

 

The live-online courses from Princeton Review are priced at around $799 to $2500, depending on the test you’re preparing for. The self-paced courses usually come at half the price of the live-online ones and you can get them from $200 to around $700.

 

The only difference is the amount of live instruction you will receive. With live-online options, you can count on  18h to 127h of instruction  (depending on the course).

 

With the self-paced options, you won’t get the live action, but you’ll have access to all the other course materials. This includes study plans and hundreds of mini instructional videos which you can watch on a computer or a mobile device.

 

It’s difficult to say which option is better because it all depends on your individual needs. Think if you really need the assistance of an instructor or not. This is usually required when the student lacks math skills, or simply prefers working in a person-to-person manner.

 

7. Books and study materials from Princeton Review

 

There are lots of prep-books in print from Princeton Review. They receive good reviews from the majority of students, although sometimes they contain a few errors.

 

The books are priced at around $15 to $30 apiece, and you can use them as a standalone tool for self-preparation. That’s because except for hundreds of pages of materials, you’ll get access to many practice questions and a few  full-length tests as well. 

 

The books are revised every year to cover all the updates in tests as and new practice questions.

 

You can check all the available books by visiting TPR’s Amazon Page.

 

Here are the covers of some of the most popular titles:

 

8. How does Princeton Review compare to other courses available on the market?

 

In most comparisons, Princeton Review comes out on top as one of the leaders of the test-prep industry. Their courses are a bit pricier but offer more features and extra materials.

 

The company is mostly compared to Kaplan which is the first, and biggest test-prep company ever. Kaplan is definitely stronger when it comes to in-person courses and the quality of instructors. But overall, Princeton has a stronger offer and a more “high-tech” approach.

 

Other companies in the market are cheaper but they only offer self-paced courses. The most budget-friendly company nowadays is Magoosh, which offers self-paced courses for around $99 dollars. Then there’s also Khan Academy which offers good courses for free.

 

If you need more info, you can also check my articles:

 

 

9. The length of access to the courses

 

You’ll have access to your course for 4 to 12 months depending on the course.

 

The access to an MCAT course is 6 months, and the access to other courses is 4 or 12 months. You’ll get the longest access to SAT/ACT courses.

 

You can always find how many days you have left by accessing the student portal’s dashboard. You’ll get a notification when you only have 30 days left. If you need it, you can extend access to the course at an additional fee.

 

  • $99 for 1 year for ACT, SAT and PSAT courses
  • $199 for 120 days for LSAT, GMAT and GRE courses
  • $499 for 120 days for MCAT courses

 

Usually, the courses are designed so you’ll get intense prep over a short period just before the exam date. This is the case with most test-prep companies.

 

10. The Princeton Review mobile apps

 

After signing up for any course, you’ll be able to login to the student portal. It serves as an online hub for students and you can access it through any mobile device including your phone and a tablet.

 

Through the student portal, you’re able to attend live classes, ask questions directly, check performance reports, share files, communicate through an instant chat, share your screen with the teacher, and easily watch the recording if you’ve missed your class.

 

There’s also the parent portal (a separate app) through which you can  monitor the progress your child  with practice tests and homework.

 

Unfortunately, these apps still need a lot of further development as they actually don’t allow you to do practice questions. They serve more as a communication platform at this moment. Both apps are available on iOS and Android.

 

Here are some screenshots from the app:

 

princeton review mobile app screenshot - Copy

 

A quick review of the most popular courses offered by Princeton Review

 

Now that you know the main ingredients of the company’s offer, let’s take a closer look at the most popular courses.

 

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re ready to start your prep for one of the biggest exams that will further your education and career. Below you’ll find information that will help you to make up your mind and see if TPR is the right choice.

 

A quick review of the MCAT prep courses

 

Here are the main features of the most popular MCAT course:

 

MCAT Live Online Ultimate (Princeton)
PriceCheck the price here
Live classroom time123 hours
BooksA set of 11 books
Full length online practice tests15 practice tests
Personal live 1-to-1 coaching0h (available at an additional cost)
On-demand instructional videos500+ hours of on-demand video
Practice questions with explanations10.000+ practice questions
GuaranteeMCAT 510 guarantee option. Improve your score by at least 10 points or get at least 510, or your money back.
Study Manager MissionsYes

 

A quick review of the SAT / ACT prep courses

 

Here are the top features of the most popular SAT / ACT course:

 

Princeton Review Ultimate SAT Course
PriceCheck the price here
Live classroom time18 hours
BooksYes, 3 books included with the course
Full-length online practice testsYes, 3 scheduled, proctored practice tests + 19 additional tests
On-demand instructional videos140+ instructional SAT videos
Practice questions with explanations240 online drills + 2000+ practice questions
GuaranteeYes, higher score guarantee (1240+ and 1400+ guarantees with premium courses)
Email assistanceYes, technical assistance
Mobile learning appYes – Parent Portal + Student Portal
Personalized study planYes
Progress tracking and reportsYes

 

A quick review of the GRE / GMAT prep courses

 

Here are the main features of the GRE / GMAT courses:

 

Princeton Ultimate GRE Live Online
PriceCheck the price here
Live classroom time24 hours of live expert instruction
Books1-2 books provided with the course
Full length online practice tests8 computer adaptive-by-section practice exams
On-demand instructional videos24 hours of video content available
Practice questions with explanations3500+ practice questions
The Official Test Day ExperienceNo
GuaranteeHigher score guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can take the course again for free or get your money back.

 

A quick review of the LSAT prep courses

 

Here are the top features of the LSAT courses:

 

Princeton LSAT Ultimate Live Online
PriceCheck the price here
Live classroom time84 hours of live instruction
BooksProvided with the course (see below)
Full length online practice tests6 full-length proctored exams
Personal live 1-to-1 coachingNo (but you can get it as an additional option – on-demand 1-to-1 tutoring)
On-demand instructional videos150+ hours of online on-demand video content
Practice questions with explanationsThousands of questions with explanations
GuaranteeHigher score guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can take the course again for free or get your money back.

 

Conclusion

 

The Princeton Review is a large organization and one of the market leaders in the test prep industry. Taking any educational course always involves a bit of risk. But hopefully, by reading this review you’ll have more information about what’s on offer. And you always take the “better results guarantee” which protects you as a client.

 

Most students achieve great success if they fully commit to their prep and work on a tight schedule. These courses will help you do exactly that by giving you a path to run on. Of course, the company has its flaws, but you can’t expect perfect service every single time.

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