The 4 Best GRE Prep Courses To Take (2020)

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best gre courses featured graphic

 

If you want to get into your dream grad school you will need to get at least 310 on your GRE. This is not an easy task, especially if you haven’t practiced math for a while.

 

That’s why many students turn to prep courses. With an investment of a few hundred dollars, you can get practice tests, detailed reports, study plans, and materials that will help you succeed.

 

In this review, I will compare the four best GRE courses available on the market right now.

 

The GRE is a computer-based test, so all of these courses can be taken online through a PC or a mobile device. You will learn about all the features, differences, advantages and disadvantages of these courses. Let’s take a look!

 

Here’s a quick list of the winners in this comparison:

 

  1. Magoosh GRE 6 Month Premium (You can now get $49 off your course)
  2. Kaplan GRE Prep Live Online (You can now get $100 off your course)
  3. Princeton Ultimate GRE Live Online (You can now get $200 off your course)
  4. The Economist GRE Tutor Ultimate (You can now get $129 off your course)

 

Table of contents:

 

 

How the GRE course list was compiled

 

There are many GRE prep course options on the market. I checked all of them and came up with a list of four which consistently received great feedback from students. I also analyzed the top features you should be looking for in a course.

 All of them are listed below in a big comparison table. 

These courses are all based online because these days no one has time to commute to a class (I certainly don’t). Instead, you can pull out your phone and study for your exam wherever you are.

Some of these courses are self-paced which means you will study in your own time (Magoosh, The Economist GRE). But to balance this review I listed some great live online options with more on-demand video (Kaplan, Princeton Review).

So pick and choose depending on your preferred method of study.

Disclosure: some of the links in this review are affiliate links. It means that if you click on them and ultimately buy something I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

 

A side-by-side comparison table of the four top GRE courses:

 

1. Magoosh GRE 6 Month Premium2. Kaplan GRE Prep Live Online3. Princeton Ultimate GRE Live Online4. The Economist GRE Tutor Ultimate
Price Check the price here (get $49 off your course)Check the price here (get $100 off your course)Check the price here (get $200 off your course)Check the price here (get $129 off your course)
Live classroom time0h (fully online based)21 hours of live online instruction24 hours of live expert instruction6 live one-to-one sessions (30 minutes each)
Books 0 books (fully online based) 2 books provided with the course1-2 books provided with the course(0 books) fully online based
Full length online practice tests 37 full-length computer-based practice tests8 computer adaptive-by-section practice exams6 with The ultimate plan
On-demand instructional videos 250 videos35 hours of video content available24 hours of video content available not  disclosed
Practice questions with explanations 1200 practice questions5000+ practice questions3500+ practice questions5000+ practice questions
The Official Test Day ExperienceNoYesNoNo
Guarantee+5  points per section, also 7-day money-back guaranteeHigher 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.Yes, 7-day free trial.  and 5 or 7 point score increase guaranteed ( depends on the plan)
Email assistance Yes (You’ll get answers in one or two business days)Yes (technical assistance)Yes (technical assistance)Yes (depends based on the plan you choose). Either 25, 100, or unlimited.

 

 

magoosh logo

1. The best online self-prep GRE course – Magoosh

 

The Magoosh course is the best option for the majority of students. It has everything you could possibly expect from a great GRE prep course. And it all comes with a really affordable price tag (around $150)

Magoosh has been online for only a couple of years. But they established themselves as a fantastic and budget-friendly option in the area of self-prep courses.

They have a great mobile app that enables you to study on all devices, from any place around the world and on any operating system. This gives you a lot of flexibility and control over your study schedule.

Many students like to learn during commutes or when they have a few moments to spare while waiting in line at the supermarket. Now you can just pull out your phone and go through a couple of GRE practice questions in a matter of seconds.

Another great thing is that you’ll get email assistance. So whenever you’re stuck with a nasty quantitative question, you can reach out to the Magoosh team and expect an answer within one or two business days (but usually just a couple of hours).

By taking this inexpensive course, you will be able to score on average 6 points higher per section than the majority of other GRE takers.

One thing that really stands out for Magoosh is their feedback and analytics system. It almost turns your GRE prep into a mobile game, where you can see your stats and the areas you still need to improve in. This reporting feature deserves a lot of praise and it’s a great way to integrate technology into education.

Moreover, with Magoosh, you’ll get a neat score improvement guarantee. If you don’t improve your GRE score by at least 5 points, you will get your money back. That’s a strong promise from a course that costs less than $200.

Actually, when you apply a discount and get the 6-month premium plan you will pay only 149 bucks. This is a steal because you will get access to all the best GRE content for half a year, which is more than enough to learn everything you need.

 

magoosh gre course screenshot

Here’s the look of the Magoosh GRE dashboard. As you can see, it has a built-in timer which helps you to keep the pace.

 

Moreover, you will also get a 7-day money-back guarantee. So you can definitely check out the course and see if you like it. And if for whatever reason you decide it’s not for you (which I doubt), your credit card will be charged back with the amount you’ve paid.

 But let’s get down into the nitty-gritty specifics  of the course and see why exactly is the best. There are many reasons, but here are the most important ones:

Magoosh uses big data and collects answers coming from millions of GRE students. This helps them see where the majority of students fall short and what are some of the most difficult questions on the exam. By using technology, the system will serve you only the top questions you need to learn to absolutely crush the GRE.

Instead of going through hundreds of pages of materials, trying to revive your long-lost knowledge of arcane math concepts, you will focus only on a few crucial types of questions.

Once you get these suckers down you’ll get a great score even without a deep understanding of the concepts involved. This is perfect for students who want to save time and get into grad school without going mad.

But wait, there’s more. By studying with Magoosh you’ll get expertly crafted study schedules you can use to keep yourself on track with your prep. There are 11 schedules in total and you can adapt them to your level of skill and availability.

As you know GRE is an adaptive test. It means that once you crush the first section of verbal or quantitative, the second section is going to be much harder. Magoosh simulates this same environment and lets you get a real-world test experience.

 

Here’s exactly what you will get by signing up for the Magoosh GRE course:

Magoosh GRE 6 Month Premium
PriceCheck the price here (discounts may apply)
Video lessons 250 video lessons
Practice questions 1200 practice questions
Full-length practice tests 3
Study schedules Yes (11)
Length of  access 6 months
Higher score guarantee+5  points per section
Email assistanceYes
Score predictor Yes

 

 

Some testimonials from students who took the Magoosh course:

“Magoosh was exactly what I needed to kick-start my GRE prep. The practice questions were incredibly addictive and the dashboard progress pie chart very encouraging. The quick turnaround time in email responses was very appreciated. ” – Jerilyn

 

“Magoosh taught me all the math concepts that I had forgotten, I could not have done it without Magoosh! The lessons are all super relevant to the test, and the practice problems are so helpful! Amazing!” – Hannah

 

 

 

kaplan logo

 

2. The second GRE prep course contender – Kaplan GRE Prep Live Online

 

Kaplan is one of the oldest and most distinguished prep companies out there. They have quite a few GRE course options. Private tutoring is the priciest one, which cost over $2,000. But there are also cheaper alternatives like the self-paced course or the live online one.

In this review, we will focus on the live online option, since Kaplan is known for their excellent instructors as well as lots of video content.

First of all, there are two live online options: the regular one and the plus one. With the plus option which is around $400 more expensive, you will get 3 hours of one-to-one coaching, as well as self, paced courses covering the math foundations and advanced math for the GRE. Other than that, they are the same.

One thing you’ll notice right away is that you have  21 hours of live online instruction.  This is fantastic for students who like a more structured approach to learning as well as live interaction with a teacher.

It’s always great to have an opportunity to ask specific questions in a live setting. This will give you instant feedback and you won’t have to wait 1 or 2 days for an answer like with the self-prep courses. Instead, you will receive live instructions from three or four different teachers who specialize in specific areas like math or verbal.

More than that you’ll get access to 35 hours of on-demand videos taken from some of the best lectures Kaplan has in stock. This is more than you will get with any other company.

Another thing which makes this course unique is the  official test day experience . Kaplan has an international network of educational centers, which is most dense in the US and Canada. As a part of your study curriculum, you will be able to go to one of their test centers and complete the GRE in an actual live setting.

This is a great experience to have because it enables you to find out what kind of score can you expect with your current level of knowledge.

But you can also complete full-length computer-based practice tests in your own time. Kaplan offers 7 of them in both of their live online packages.

 

kaplan gre screenshot

Here’s an insider look at the GRE dashboard where you can track your progress.

 

You may also want to complete separate practice questions if you have a few minutes of free time. There are over 5000 of them so that’s enough to keep you busy for a while. Kaplan also has the adaptive Qbank Technology which enables you to create your own practice tests based on your strengths and weaknesses.

As a bonus, you will get two GRE prep books delivered to an address of your choice. They contain some additional knowledge, but they are not the best books are there. A few students complained that they contain errors and the practice questions are basically recycled from one year to the next.

So in the end, I wouldn’t bother with the books and rather focus on getting the most out of the live instruction, the on-demand videos, the full-length practice tests and thousands upon thousands of practice questions.

One thing you need to consider when choosing the course is the schedule that would be perfect for you. You can pick an express route and finish the whole thing in around 3 weeks. That’s if you decide to go with two, 2-hour classes per week.

But you can also stretch your prep to almost 2,5 months if you go with just one class per week. In the majority of cases, this is the best option to choose, because it will give you more time to work with the materials and save live online classes to ask questions over an extended period.

Overall, Kaplan offers one of the best GRE course in the market. It should help you to go way beyond a score of 300 and allow you to get approved to a great grad program.

 

Here’s a table with all the features of the Kaplan GRE course:

Kaplan GRE Prep Live Online
PriceCheck the price here
Live classroom time21 hours of live online instruction
Books2 books provided with the course
Full length online practice tests7 full-length computer-based practice tests
On-demand instructional videos35 hours of video content available
Practice questions with explanations5000+ practice questions
The Official Test Day ExperienceYes
GuaranteeHigher score guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can take the course again for free or get your money back.

 

 

Here you can check the GRE book from Kaplan:

GRE Prep Plus 2019: Practice Tests + Proven Strategies + Online + Video + Mobile (Kaplan Test Prep)

 

Here’s a positive review from a person who took the course

Kaplan’s teachers have proven time after time to be well educated and compassionate towards their students. They have always been punctual, informative, and thought-provoking. The teachers constantly push you to strive towards your best possible self through positive reinforcement and repetition. – Joseph

 

And here’s a negative review:

The rationale for the trainers is extremely broad and not very helpful. The reviews and videos are not interactive enough and the commentary voice over is very drool and does not make it easy to listen to. – Jayme

 

 

 

the princeton review logo

 

3. Princeton Review Ultimate GRE Live Online

 

Princeton review is one of the most trustworthy educational organizations in the world. They have been providing students with courses for more than 30 years, and they are the closest competitor of Kaplan.

It’s worth considering their Ultimate GRE Live Online course, as it’s one of the top GRE courses in the market. First of all, it’s a live online course. It means that it comes with a higher price tag but also gives you an option to study with excellent instructors who will answer your questions.

  There are 24 hours of live online classroom time,  which is a lot of time to spend with a great teacher. This is great for students who require additional guidance and are not sure about their skills.

The quantitative section will usually cause a lot of trouble for a pupil who long forgot their high school math skills. When you face a difficult maths challenge, you can spend 2 hours on it and still not be able to fully solve the problem. This is a huge waste of time for many students.

But it can be easily resolved by consulting an instructor who already dealt with similar questions thousands of times. I would recommend taking this course if you feel you could use a bit more support on your GRE journey.

Just like with Kaplan, you will receive books along with the online course. But in this case, the written materials are of  much higher quality.  They received raving reviews from students who praise them as being up-to-date, clear, concise and offering access to additional online materials.

If you like working with books, that’s the right option for you. Many students like to combine printed books, with online drills and full-length practice tests. If that’s you I would go with Princeton Review.

 

princeton review mobile app screenshot

Princeton Review also has a mobile app that allows you to track the progress you’ve made with your studies.

 

Usually, there are many different schedules to choose from, so you can adapt your study time to your calendar. You will receive one class per week and the classes are even available on weekends if you’re too busy during the workweek. If you ever miss a class, you can easily retrieve it as a recording that will be available on the course dashboard.

Another great feature of this course is  that it offers 8 practice tests  you can complete in your own time. As you know GRE takes more than 3 hours to complete. So after going through 8 full practice tests, you will be more than ready to meet any challenge you encounter during the real-world exam.

An important thing to notice here is that these tests are adaptive by section, just like the real exam. For example, if you score really high on the first section of quant, the second one will be more difficult. And the same thing goes for verbal.

This is a great technology to have because it stimulates the true environment on the exam. You can also use a timer to make sure you are fast enough to answer all the questions in time. Remember that on average you have only one minute and thirty seconds per question so it’s important to keep your timing right.

After completing your practice tests, you will receive interactive score reports where you can see exactly where you fell short, and the areas you need to work on in the future. This, along with three and a half thousand practice questions makes it one of the most comprehensive GRE courses out there.

Additionally, you will get a higher score guarantee, which means that if for whatever reason you don’t improve your score after going through the course, you will get a full refund (or you will be able to take the whole course again at no additional cost). This dramatically decreases the risk and gives you more confidence in your prep.

 

Here are all the main features of the Princeton Review online course:

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.

 

 

Here you can check the GRE book from Princeton Review:

Cracking the GRE Premium Edition with 6 Practice Tests, 2019: The All-in-One Solution for Your Highest Possible Score (Graduate School Test Preparation)

 

Here’s a positive review of The Princeton Review GRE course:

I have nothing negative to say about my experience! I took a GRE Live Online Class. It is a bit pricey, but I signed up during one of their $300 off specials. The price is worth the comprehensive review and lessons you receive. Class twice a week, online, from a great instructor has been very beneficial. – Jennifer

 

Here is a negative review from a person who took the course:

The only downside to this [GRE] course would be that they do not teach time management. The instructors teach you how to answer the question, but not a timed manner. Overall, great program & would recommend. – Marielle

 

 

gre economist tutor

4. The fourth best course – The Economist GRE Tutor

 

You may have heard about The Economist as a leading economic and business magazine. But since many students use the GRE to apply to MBA programs and economics schools, the famous publisher decided to provide their own GRE course which is actually outstanding.

There are a few unique features to look for in this course.  First, it offers a lot of live support.  Anytime you have a question or you’re stuck, you can chat with an expert tutor who will resolve your issues.

Another thing which you cannot find in any other course is the analytical essay marking and feedback. Most courses completely overlook this part, but The Economist got it covered.

And just like with Magoosh, you will get access to a mobile app that you can use for your prep from any place and at any time. This is a great option for busy students who don’t have time to attend live classes, and instead, desire to maximize every moment they have to brush up on their GRE skills. The app works on any OS and is fully mobile optimized.

The Economist is known for the use of technology in business and marketing, and this spills over to their prep course.

All the topics related to GRE are divided into sections. When you enter the app you can easily track your progress and see which topics you’ve covered. This makes the whole experience much more enjoyable and gamified.

 

gre tutor vocabulary economist app

Here’s a quick snapshot of the vocabulary learner in the Economist’s mobile app. Now you can cram vocabulary on the go.

 

Now, instead of slouching over the books, trying to memorize information, you will feel more like a cyborg, absorbing knowledge in a tech-based environment. The app will measure your study time, and they give you detailed analytics of your sessions.

You will know exactly how much you studied each day, how much time you spend in each category, what was your overall performance with practice questions, and how much time on average did you spend answering questions.

This last one is extremely useful because on GRE you only have around 1 minute and 30 seconds per question. By measuring your timing you can make sure you’re not going over the allowed time boundary.

The use of technology in that course is simply amazing. You will see all your results at a glance and the system will even predict your GRE score based on your practice questions and a full-length practice test. After completing each test you will get a detailed overview of your performance and see exactly where you fell short. This is a fantastic review system that will give you more benefit out of each training session.

There are different plans you can choose from depending on your budget and needs. With the basic plan, you won’t get the improved score guarantee and only 3 full-length practice tests. With the premium plan which is just $50 more, you will get a 5 point improvement guarantee and 5 practice tests.

And with the ultimate option, you’ll get a guarantee of at least 7 point improvement, six practice tests, unlimited questions to your tutor, six one-to-one live sessions during which you can chat directly with your tutor. And lastly, you will receive 7 essay markings to improve your performance on the analytic writing task.

The difference in pricing is not that great, but the ultimate plan comes with a price tag of almost $500. Fortunately, there is a free trial option so you can try out any plan for 7 days and if you are unsatisfied you can get your money back.

 

Here are all the features of this GRE course:

The Economist GRE Tutor Ultimate
PriceCheck the price here
Live classroom time6, 30 minute one to one sessions with a tutor
BooksFully based online
Full length online practice tests6
On-demand instructional videos not  disclosed
Practice questions with explanations5000+ practice questions
The Official Test Day ExperienceNo
GuaranteeYes, 7 day free trial.  and 5 or 7 point score increase guaranteed ( depends on the plan)
Email assistance Yes (Unlimited questions in the premium plan).

 

 

Bonus section: GRE prep – Frequently asked questions related to courses

 

What to look for in a great GRE course?

 

There are a couple of things you need to take into consideration:

  • Are you going to get a guarantee on your score?
  • Do the practice questions in the course resemble the real world GRE?
  • Is it affordable? $500 is the maximum amount you should pay for GRE prep.
  • Does it have reports and analytics? It’s great to see how are you improving with time, and how are your scores compared to other students.
  • Does it have great reviews from students? Students are the ultimate judges and they often share their opinions on Reddit or educational forums.
  • What is the length of access to the course? You should be able to access it for at least three months, so you have enough time to study.
  • Does it have technical assistance? It’s always great to know there’s someone willing to help you on the other side.

 

What is the maximum score on the GRE?

 

The maximum is 340, plus 6 for the independently scored analytical writing section.

There are three main sections of the GRE:

  • Quantitative reasoning – 170 points
  • Verbal reasoning – 170 points
  • Writing section – 6 points

 

What is a good GRE score?

 

If you can land around the 310 mark you should get admitted into most grad schools in the US. It also depends on your GPA, which should hover around the 3.8 mark. Here you can check the GRE score requirements for the popular grad schools in the US.

It also depends on the type of school you’re applying to. Technical schools will require a higher score on the quantitative reasoning and the humanistic ones on verbal reasoning.

 

What other materials can you use to prepare for the exam?

 

See what other students who achieved great scores have done. You can look them up on Reddit or YouTube and copy their strategies.

You can also take additional materials from the ETS as it’s always great to take it from the source.

Other than that, you should map out your study schedule and put in the work on a regular basis. There is simply no substitute for intensive study sessions.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see there are many amazing GRE course options available on the market. You can choose a self-paced course if you’re into studying on your own. Or you can take one with live instructions and get a more thorough prep.

It all depends on your budget and on your favorite way to study. You can go as low as $99 and still get great materials and the desired score. But if you’re applying to a grad school with very high requirements (at least 320 points), you’ll be better off investing a little bit more to arrive at your ideal score in a secure way.

But either way, maxing out your GRE isn’t supposed to be easy. Even with a great course, you will still need to put a lot of time into study to guarantee the ultimate success. Good luck.

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