If you want to get admitted into a top business school, you’ll need to pass the GMAT. In fact, 9 out of 10 enrollments to an MBA program are made with a GMAT score.
So now you’re thinking what is the top GMAT prep course you can take to grow your chances of success, and get your future business career on track.
Kaplan and Princeton Review both offer solid courses in “live online” and “self-paced” formats. But which one is actually better?
A quick summary of the findings:
The best course overall – Princeton Review GMAT Ultimate
The second best course – Kaplan GMAT Live Online
Why is that so? Main reasons:
- 27h vs. 18h of live online instruction.
- 10 full-length tests vs. 9 full-length tests.
- Feedback on your GMAT essay from Princeton Review.
- Better online dashboard, printed materials, and lots of extra math training from Princeton Review.
Now let’s take a look at a more in-depth review.
Table of contents:
- The “Live Online” Courses Comparison
- The “Self-Paced” Courses Comparison
- Other GMAT courses available from Kaplan and Princeton Review
- What about the GMAT books?
- What students are saying?
The “Live Online” Courses Comparison
With over 200,000 students taking the GMAT every year, you’ll need an edge to defeat your competition and get into the top business school.
The “live online” courses are designed to give you this edge with lots of live online instruction from top teachers.
The prices of both courses are comparable. They both cost over $1000 and the Princeton Review is around $100 more expensive than its competitor. But it’s worth it because you’ll get 9 extra hours of live instruction.
GMAT places emphasis on math skills and if you want to improve, nothing beats solving difficult problems with the help of a teacher. Otherwise, you can easily get stuck and spend an inordinate amount of time on simple questions.
Except for more instruction time, Princeton gives you access to a bonus course called “Hard Math Workshops”. This will allow you to check over 700+ extra math questions with detailed explanations.
What I like about Kaplan though, is that it has the “official test day experience”. It means that throughout the course, you’ll attend one proctored test in an actual testing facility nearest to where you live. That’s a great way to see how would you perform on a real-world test.
But overall, Princeton has a better “adaptive test” technology that’ll sort your practice questions based on your abilities and difficulty levels. They offer a review of your GMAT essay as a bonus, which all ties into a nice prep bundle that’s worth the price.
Here’s the comparison of all the major features of both courses:
|Kaplan GMAT Live Online||Princeton Review GMAT Ultimate|
|Price||Check the price here||Check the price here|
|Hours of live online instruction||18h||27h|
|Books||2 books||1 book|
|Full-length practice tests||10||9|
|One to one instruction||3h of coaching with the “plus” course||No|
|Instructional videos||30h of videos||100+ on-demand videos|
|Practice questions (containing explanations)||5000+ questions including Qbank||83 adaptive drills (3000+ questions)|
|Access to the instructor outside of class||No||No|
|Higher results guarantee||Yes||Yes|
|Access to a mobile app||Yes||Yes|
|Feedback on GMAT essay||No||Yes|
The “Self-Paced” Courses Comparison
Here the amount of available materials is the same, except you won’t get any “live-action”. This means that the price drops significantly from around $1299 to around $600 for both courses.
Self-prep is still a legit way to do your prep if you prefer to study on your own and want to save up a little bit of money. What I like about Princeton Review here is that they give you access to their “student portal”.
It’s basically a mobile app you can log into and still get in touch with students and instructors to get answers to your pressing questions. This brings a sense of community to the whole experience and lets you feel like you’re a part of a group.
Other than that, the courses are more or less the same.
Other GMAT courses available from Kaplan and Princeton Review
Except for the most popular “self-paced” and “live online” options, there are a couple of other ways to prepare for GMAT.
Both companies offer “private tutoring” packages where you can actually work with an instructor in a one-to-one setting. As you can imagine, these courses are quite pricey and cost over $2000.
These are still good options especially if your math skills need improvement. There’s nothing like sitting together with someone and cracking the difficult questions on the spot.
But note that except for private tutoring, you can also take a live-online “plus” course from Kaplan. Here you’ll 3 hours of one-to-one coaching for around $300.
Moreover, Kaplan and Princeton offer lots of free GMAT prep materials (including quizzes and practice tests) you can grab on their websites. This is perfect for warm-up.
What about the GMAT books?
Both companies offer quality printed materials for GMAT that you’ll receive, along with the “self-paced” and “live-online courses.
Kaplan offers two of their own prep books plus an MBA admissions guide, which is quite helpful. But Princeton will send you the GMAT Official Guide coming from GMAC, which is even better as it comes from the designers of the course.
But there are many more books coming from these prep companies you can buy on Amazon, even without signing up for any of their prep courses. This is great if you’re on a budget and want to study in your own time.
The separate GMAT titles cost between $15 and $30 dollars and they’re worth it. That’s because they still give you access to lots of online materials (including full-length tests).
In fact, Kaplan offers a whole bundle of 4 different GMAT books including verbal and math workbooks, as well as two books with the best strategies and practice questions. But if you’re going for the bundle, it’s better to buy the one from GMAC which contains three books of higher quality (and cheaper price).
Princeton Review offers five separate GMAT prep books and they all receive lots of positive reviews from students. You can’t buy them in a bundle, but if you’re self-prepping, you should definitely invest in the “Cracking the GMAT book” which will give you access to six full-length practice tests. And if you need even more workout, you can check their “1138 GMAT Practice Questions” workbook.
What students are saying?
Here are a few comments about the GMAT courses I found online:
From David about Princeton Review (4 out of 5 stars):
Overall good course. Classes move quickly. The instructor was exceptional but the course content could have been improved to include more math basics.
Here’s another comment from Robert bout TPR (5 out of 5):
Excellent class! Professor King did a fantastic job. His explanations were easy to follow. The class was well paced. I haven’t been in school for a few years, so this class helped bring back some concepts that I haven’t thought about in years.
And here’s a comment from Kate about Kaplan’s GMAT prep (5 out of 5):
The Kaplan In-Person Test Prep was definitely a worthwhile investment. The multiple modes of engagement – in person, online, books, interactive video, and mobile app – kept studying from getting stale. I was glad to have a structured program to force good study habits.
As you can see, both options look worthwhile in the eyes of students who took the courses. If your math is a bit rusty or you haven’t been in school for a while, going through a course can be a blessing.
Prepping for your GMAT shouldn’t be difficult. But you know how hard it is to motivate yourself on your own. That’s why it’s great to invest in a solid prep course that’ll guide you through the process and force you to complete all your assignments in time.
In the end, both companies offer great services and are highly rated. But Princeton Review has a slight edge as business thinking runs through the organization’s core.