Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review (2021 Test Prep Comparison)

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kaplan vs princeton review - featured graphic

 

Kaplan and Princeton Review are true market leaders when it comes to test-prep and educational services.

 

But since you’re here, you’re probably wondering – which one is better?

There are no easy answers. It all depends on your needs, the test you’re taking (MCAT/GRE/GMAT/ACT/SAT/LSAT, etc.), how you like to study, and your educational budget. But after reading this detailed comparison of the two industry giants, you’ll be able to make a better decision.

 

Winners in summary (check the links for current discounts):

 

1. MCAT – Princeton Review “Ultimate MCAT Course” is the winner

2. ACT / SAT – Princeton Review “ACT 31+ Course” is the winner

3. LSAT – Princeton Review  “LSAT Fundamentals Course” is the winner

4. GRE / GMAT – Kaplan “Live Online Course” is the winner

 

Table of contents:

 

 

Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review – A General Overview

 

Kaplan was founded by Stanley Kaplan in 1938. The Princeton Review, which quickly caught up with the older competitor was founded by John Katzman in 1981. Both companies started by giving in-class test preparation courses, as well as services helping students to get to top universities.

They evolved with time, offering a wide range of services including homework help, private tutoring, live online classes, self-paced courses, essay reviews, on-demand tutoring, college admission listings. Now they serve millions of students every year.

According to Trustpilot, they’re both “great” with a score of 4 out of 5.

 

kaplan test prep score on trustpilot

princeton review score on trustpilot

 

But according to Consumer Affairs, Kaplan ranks only at 2.8/5, with some disturbing reviews about people who couldn’t get their money back:

 

consumer affairs kaplan score

 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the Consumer Affairs score for the Princeton Review.

But there was one more source of statistical comparison I could find (specifically about the GMAT test from BeatTheGMAT website). Here we have 4.4/5 for Kaplan and 4.9/5 for Princeton.

 

kaplan vs princeton review score for gmat test

 

Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review – The Overall Score

 

Kaplan – 8/10

Princeton Review – 9/10

 

In this Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review comparison you will see that both companies provide great customer experience, but Kaplan sometimes spreads itself too thin by providing courses for dozens of different tests. Princeton Review, on the other hand, developed expertise in test preparation for the most popular exams, making it a better option for MCAT, SAT, and LSAT students. However, Kaplan really crushes it when it comes to GMAT and GRE. 

On average, Princeton Review has a better “results or your money back” guarantee, which allows students to retake the course with no additional cost or get a refund if they want. The best part about it is that in many cases they guarantee a specific score (which will usually put the student in the top 20% of exam takers).

Princeton also has an AI, big-data-driven prep system so, in the self-paced course, it will adjust the questions to cover your major weaknesses and focus on your strengths. The full-length practice tests they provide resemble a real-world exam-taking situation as closely as possible.

If, however, you need to take a course in a specific niche (like nursing, teacher licensing, or finance) Kaplan will have you covered as it has 120+ prep tests on offer.

 

Kaplan at a glance:

 

  • Preparation for 120+ different tests (with an emphasis on the most popular ones)
  • Large amounts of books and training materials
  • In-person, live online, and self-paced options
  • Different options for different needs – unlimited prep, self-paced, foundations
  • Guaranteed success or your money back
  • Live 1-to-1 online coaching
  • Online, customizable quizzes
  • Pricing (depends on the prep course) – ranging from $300 for self-paced courses to $10,000 for intensive summer and winter courses.

 

Princeton Review at a glance:

 

  • Specialized in the most popular tests (such as SAT/ACT/GRE/GMAT/MCAT/LSAT)
  • Large sets of books and practice test
  • In-person, live online, and self-paced options
  • Different options for different needs – immersive course, cram course, on-demand tutoring
  • Guaranteed success or your money back
  • Access to two different tutors for a more immersive learning experience
  • AI and Big-data-driven learning
  • Tutor on-demand on a per-hour basis
  • Study Manager Missions (ensuring that the student completes all the major parts of the course).
  • Pricing (depends on a course) – ranging from $200 for self-paced courses to $2500 for on-site boot camps and private tutoring.

 

Here you can see some additional company statistics sourced from the Princeton Review website:

princeton review stats about different courses and the company

 

 Now let’s talk about how do these two services compare when it comes to the most popular tests and certifications. 

 

MCAT – Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review

 

kaplan vs princeton mcat

 

Overall score:

Kaplan – 8/10

Princeton Review – 9/10

 

The Medical College Admission Test served by AAMC is one of the most challenging computer-based examinations you can take. The maximum score on the exam is 528, and the average MCAT score necessary to get into an MD program in the United States is between 510 and 511.

Both Kaplan and Princeton Review are highly specialized in providing expert MCAT test prep courses. They have three different service packages you can choose from.

There’s the in-person option where the students attend live classes in a nearby educational center. Then there’s a live-online option and the most affordable self-paced option.

While each company provides great materials, for MCAT study, the Princeton Review stands out for a couple of reasons. First of all, it offers much more live classroom time (123h vs. 36h) which is crucial for proper exam preparation. Princeton also offers more MCAT books (11 vs. 7) and instructional video lessons (500 vs. 130). In fact, they are so proud of their video library, which they now refer to as “Medflix”, a subtle word play that obviously reminds us of the popular movie streaming service.

There are also some other differences. For example, Princeton Review guarantees students a specific score of at least 510. This is the exact score necessary to get into a good med school program. Princeton gives the money back without question. On the other hand, some Kaplan students experienced issues when they asked for a refund.

 

High Acceptance Rate in Top Med Schools
Princeton Review MCAT 510
$3,099 (Prices may change without prior notice)

Includes 123 hours of live instructions conducted by MCAT experts, thousands of practice questions, 16 full-length practice tests, guarantee of score 510 or higher, and more.

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Princeton also offers a really cool feature called the “study manager missions”. They’re designed to keep the students focused and add a bit of “gamification” to the experience, encouraging pupils to complete their “study missions” according to a well-designed study plan.

 When it comes to the actual full-length practice tests, each company offers 15 , and they resemble the real test environment designed by AAMC as closely as possible (the current MCAT test is 7.5h long including breaks).

On the plus side for Kaplan, we can see the three hours of personal 1-to-1 on-demand coaching. During this time, the student can ask questions, receive guidance, and share their concerns about how to best pass the test and get into a medical college.

 

How do the MCAT books compare?

 

kaplan vs princeton review mcat book comparison

 

Both Kaplan and Princeton Review provide great study materials similar to what you might expect from AAMC practice books. The regular study bundle contains seven books and three online practice tests, touching on every exam subject.

But Princeton provides four additional books that are to be used during the live classroom experience. These include:

  • MCAT Science Workbook
  • MCAT Science Review, Practice Questions, and Solutions
  • In-Class Compendium
  • MCAT CARS Workbook

 

You can check and compare the regular books here:

Amazon product

 

The most popular course option among students is the “live-online” one. You can see the comparison of the main features in a table below:

Kaplan MCAT Live Online Plus Princeton Review MCAT Live Online Ultimate
Price Check the price here (Get $200 off your course) Check the price here (Get $225 off your course)
Live classroom time 36 hours 123 hours
Prep Books A set of 7 books A set of 11 books
Full length online practice tests 15 practice tests 15 practice tests
Personal live 1-to-1 coaching 3 hours 0h
On-demand instructional videos 130 hours of on-demand video 500+ hours of on-demand video
MCAT practice questions with explanations 10.000+ practice questions from the MCAT Qbank 10.000+ practice questions (including multiple-choice questions)
Guarantee Yes, in case of failure, you can repeat the course or get your money back. MCAT 510+ guarantee option. Improve your score by at least 10 points, get at least 510, or your money back.
Study Manager Missions No Yes

 

And here’s an MCAT comparison table from the Princeton Review website (biased, of course, but still, might be helpful):

princeton vs kaplan mcat comparison

 

ACT / SAT – Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review

 

kaplan vs princeton act sat

 

Overall score:

Kaplan – 8/10

Princeton Review – 9/10

 

We’ll cover ACT and SAT prep in the same place, as they’re similar and used in the area of college admissions and merit-based scholarships. They encompass reading, writing, math and a written essay (optional), and both take around three hours to complete (four if you include the essay). SAT score is based on a scale of 400–1600 and ACT on a scale of 1-36.

Again, it’s a close race between Kaplan and Princeton. Both companies offer similar packages, where you gain access not only to the ACT self-paced course similar to the one offered by Magoosh but SAT and PSAT as well. It’s a good option for many students because by preparing and completing two tests instead of one, you increase the likelihood of a successful college application.

In both cases, you’ll have access to live online instruction, but this will require paying a little bit more upfront. With Kaplan, you can choose the option of 6 hours of personalized 1-to-1 coaching, and with Princeton, you can get live instruction on an on-demand basis. The offer here looks quite similar – you can pick the brains of more than one teacher, which makes the learning sessions more diverse, where you can address your weak spots from different points of view.

Proctored practice tests can give students real-world experience of taking the test. With Princeton, students can take four such tests, but with Kaplan, the number is not entirely clear when looking at their offer.

Princeton also provides twenty additional practice tests, and sixteen single-section tests, which can be completed in student’s own time. Kaplan provides these tests as well, but again, it’s not entirely clear about the numbers (they’re probably similar).

There are no on-demand videos available for the ACT / SAT in both cases. This is probably because the tests are shorter and students benefit most from studying with textbooks and completing actual exams, rather than watching a video.

 Both options provide a personalized study plan for each student, as well as a computer-based quiz system.  In Kaplan, pupils can create their own quizzes based on their perceived strengths and weaknesses. In Princeton, they use an AI-based quiz where the system serves multiple-choice questions based on previous answers given by the student.

And when it comes to the guarantee, Princeton seems to be ahead of the game, with clearer terms. They guarantee you a score of 31 for ACT and 1400 for the SAT. If you don’t get it, you can take the prep program again or get your money back. That’s great because the guaranteed scores should get you accepted to most good universities.

 

26 or Higher ACT Score
The Princeton Review ACT 31
$1,549 (Price may change without prior notice)

Includes: 36+ hours of classroom instruction, 4 scheduled practice tests (auto-proctor available), 7 additional full-length practice tests, review and practice books, etc.


Buy Now
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But with Kaplan, there’s no specific score they’ll help you to achieve. First, you need to establish a baseline, and then they decide what kind of score they can guarantee.

This, along with the lack of transparency about the number of proctored exams, and full-length online practice tests, puts Princeton slightly ahead in my opinion.

 

How do the books compare?

 

kaplan vs princeton review book act comparison

 

After many years of teaching and doing exam prep, both Kaplan and Princeton are able to come up with exceptional, yet similar, study materials. The ACT and SAT books are both around 900 pages long, with detailed explanations of each section of the test, and with multiple practice questions inside.

Some reviewers had a few complaints about the Kaplan books, saying that the questions were too easy, didn’t compare to a real-world exam and that they were recycled from previous years. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the Princeton books. Both companies seem to recycle much of the questions from previous years, but still, they’re solid for a person who takes the test for the first time.

 

You can check the books here:

ACT:

Amazon product

 

SAT:

Amazon product

 

The most popular course option among students is the “live-online” one, and you can see a comparison of features in a table below:

Kaplan Unlimited Prep Princeton Review ACT 31+ Course
Price Check the price here (Get $149 off your course) Check the price here (Get $200 off your course)
Prep Books Provided with the course (see below) Provided with the course (see below)
Full length online practice tests ? 20 + additional 16 single section tests
Personal live 1-to-1 coaching No (you can have the coaching option included if you pay more). No (but you can select the on-demand online tutoring option).
Access to more than one instructor Yes Yes
On-demand instructional videos No No
Personalized study schedule Yes Yes
Practice questions with explanations Yes Yes
Guarantee Yes, in case of failure, you can repeat the course or get your money back. If you complete the course and drills but do not score a 31 (ACT) or higher (1400 in case of SAT), you will get your money back.
Access to the ACT, SAT, and PSAT courses all in one package Yes Yes
Live, proctored exams for ACT, SAT, and PSAT ? 4
Dual Instructors No Yes

 

 

LSAT – Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review

 

kaplan vs princeton lsat

 

Overall score:

Kaplan – 9/10

Princeton Review – 10/10

 

LSAT or the Law School Admission Test is a half-day (210 minutes including breaks), standardized test administered six times a year. The purpose here is checking the student’s reading comprehension, writing and analytical skills necessary to succeed in a law school. The overall score ranges from 120 to 180. And you’ll need at least 165-170 to get to a good law school.

Princeton Review claims it gets better results than the competition (read – Kaplan), and improves the average student test score by 12 points. This is a bold claim, but 12 points can make all the difference.

Usually, Princeton promises that you’ll achieve a specific score or higher, but in terms of LSAT, there’s no such guarantee. The same goes for Kaplan. You can take the prep course again or get your money back, but there’s no promise of a specific score.

 When it comes, to live online sessions, Princeton seems to be ahead, offering 84 hours in total, compared to 28 hours from Kaplan.  Another thing worth mentioning is that Princeton offers 6 full length proctored exams, while Kaplan serves only 3. These practice LSATs are really important for getting students prepared for a real-world exam.

 

Guarantees Higher LSAT Score
Princeton Review LSAT
$1,699 (Price may change without prior notice)

Access to 8000+ real LSAT questions. With practice questions from LSAC exam creator. With highly qualified instructors that train students in spotting and fixing logic and reasoning gaps.

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The one-to-one coaching is not included in the basic bundle of either of the companies. But it’s possible to get three hours of coaching with Kaplan for around $400 more, and different one-to-one LSAT coaching packages with Princeton for around $160 per hour (but here you’ll need to get a whole package of 10 or 20 hours).

Another similarity is the amount of online on-demand instruction videos from top law instructors. In this Kaplan vs. Princeton Review battle, the former company claims to have more videos than anyone else but doesn’t provide any specific numbers, while the latter says they have 150+ videos on offer. Both institutions also provide thousands of test questions (basically, every LSAT question there ever was).

So in the end, which one is better? In my opinion, the Princeton Review offer looks stronger. I like their transparency about the average improvement in the test scores of 12 points on the exam, more proctored practice tests, and more live classroom time.

 

How do the prep books compare?

 

kaplan vs princeton review book lsat comparison

 

The study materials look quite similar on both sides, but the Kaplan book is longer (972 pages, compared to 432). But Princeton Review offers 3 additional LSAT books in the “LSAT Decoded” series, with many additional prep tests.

If you go with Princeton, I suggest you take these additional books as they’ll give you more time for practice. On the other hand, Kaplan also has some additional printed material such as “LSAT Logic Games” which includes additional test questions.

Each book is comparable in quality and contains an analysis of each question, making sure the student fully understands the “why” behind it.

 

You can check the books here:

Amazon product

 

The most popular course option among students is the “live-online” one, and you can see a comparison of features in a table below:

Kaplan LSAT Live Online Princeton Review LSAT Ultimate Live Online
Price Check the price here (Get $200 off your course) Check the price here (Get $200 off your course)
Live classroom time 28 hours of core sessions 84 hours of live instruction
Prep Books Provided with the course (see below) Provided with the course (see below)
Full length online practice tests 3 full-length in-class proctored practice LSATs 6 full-length proctored exams
Personal live 1-to-1 coaching No (but you can have an option of 3h if you’re willing to pay a bit more) No (but you can get it as an additional option – on-demand 1-to-1 tutoring)
On-demand instructional videos Access to an LSAT channel with hundreds of hours of on-demand videos 150+ hours of online on-demand video content
Practice questions with explanations Thousands of questions with explanations Thousands of questions with explanations
Guarantee Higher score guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can take the course again for free or get your money back. Higher score guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can take the course again for free or get your money back.

 

GRE / GMAT – Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review

 

kaplan vs princeton gre gmat

 

Overall score:

Kaplan – 9/10

Princeton Review – 8/10

 

Both GRE and GMAT are required for students applying to graduate programs and business schools. Both tests take around 3,5 hours and cost around $200.

GMAT is more focused on math and analysis and is taken only if you’re applying to a business school. The exams take place all year round and are computer-based. The maximum GRE score is 340 and for GMAT it’s 800. A good, “combined score” is considered to be 327 (GRE) or 700 (GMAT).

Now let’s see which test prep company should you choose if you want to get the highest score.

When it comes to live classroom time, Princeton Review has some edge, offering 24 hours vs. Kaplan’s 21. The Princeton Review’s GRE course also offers 8 full-length online practice tests, while Kaplan gives you 7. Not a big difference, but that’s always something.

 

With Guarantee for Higher Score
Princeton Review GRE
$1,999 (Price may change without prior notice)

Program simulates the official GRE. Utilizes adaptive drills for better test preparation. Employs highly qualified instructor.

Buy Now
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You’ll get 2 books with each company, and thousands of GRE prep practice questions with explanations (here Kaplan offers a bit more 5000+ vs. 3500+).  Kaplan also has more on-demand video content consisting of 35 hours of instruction (compared to Princeton’s 24). 

There’s no specific score improvement guarantee, but you’ll have a standard guarantee from both sides. If you don’t pass to your satisfaction, you can take the course again at no additional cost, or get a full refund.

One thing that really stands out for Kaplan is “The Official Test Day Experience” where you take a test in one of their educational facilities. It’s a great way to see how the test works in the real world. As far as I’m concerned, Kaplan is the only company which provides this kind of experience. Their most popular course is also slightly cheaper, which puts them ahead of the competition when it comes to GRE and GMAT prep.

 

How do the books compare?

 

kaplan vs princeton review book gre comparison

 

The books are similar in length – 500 – 700 pages each. In both cases, there’s a “flagship” book with detailed explanations and test questions, as well as additional books in the series which support your personal study schedule.

The great thing about these books is that they provide access to large amounts of online material, including quizzes, online practice tests, video lessons, etc.

They’re a perfect addition to the overall online learning course. Overall, the Princeton GRE / GMAT books receive slightly more favorable reviews from readers. I suggest you click through, to the Amazon page and take a look for more details. You can also experiment with flashcards if you want to memorize the essential concepts faster.

 

You can check the books here:

GRE:

Amazon product

 

GMAT:

Amazon product

 

The most popular course option among students is the “live-online” one, and you can see a comparison of features in a table below:

  Kaplan GRE Prep Live Online Princeton Ultimate GRE Live Online
Price Check the price here (Get $200 off your course) Check the price here (Get $200 off your course)
Live classroom time 21 hours of live online instruction 24 hours of live expert instruction
Prep Books 2 books provided with the course 1-2 books provided with the course
Full length online practice tests 7 full-length computer-based practice tests 8 computer adaptive-by-section practice exams
On-demand instructional video lessons 35 hours of video content available 24 hours of video content available
Practice questions with explanations 5000+ practice questions 3500+ practice questions
The Official Test Day Experience Yes No
Guarantee Higher score guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can take the course again for free or get your money back. Higher score guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can take the course again for free or get your money back.

 

Additional services offered by Kaplan vs. Princeton Review

 

Besides the exam preparation, the companies provide some additional services which may be helpful to students.

Kaplan is active in more countries, provides career tests, occupational licenses, international English exams, and has a large database of top universities around the English-speaking world. After being acquired by Purdue University, Kaplan created Purdue University Global, and now it offers actual degrees through more than 180 online programs.

Princeton Review also has some additional offers. One of the best ones is the on-demand homework help. You just enter online and access a database of experts in particular fields who can give you guidance and help with your homework and writing assignments (the service is paid by the hour and starts at $39.99).

Another thing up Princeton’s sleeve is a huge database of top universities and college admission counseling for international students.

Conclusion

 

As you can see from the detailed review and comparison above, it’s a close race. Both companies provide great services when it comes to exam prep, and they both take advantage of the newest trends in technology and education.

However, you can notice that Princeton Review has a slight edge over Kaplan because of the additional features it provides, as well as, higher ratings from students who completed the course. I hope this review was helpful to you. I wish you lots of success with your exams!

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