Princeton Review Vs. Kaplan: Which Is Best?

by Maximilian Claessens
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Princeton Review Kaplan - Which Prep Course Is Best

When it comes to GMAT prep courses, you’re spoiled for choice. There are a great many options on the market, and the challenge is often not in finding them, but in choosing between them. Two of the biggest names in the business are Princeton Review and Kaplan. Both are extremely well-regarded and offer a fine selection of courses suited to meeting the learning needs of a diverse range of students.

But there are a number of differences between the courses of the two companies, of course. Over the course of this article, we’ll examine those differences in great detail, including taking a look at such things as:

  • Course prices
  • Quality and quantity of course materials
  • Live instruction hours
  • App support

By the end of this article, then, we hope that you have all the information that you need to make a decision on which course you’d like to take.

In Brief: Princeton Review Vs. Kaplan GMAT

Though both course providers offer an excellent array of courses and content materials, the highest-quality instruction and the most diverse selection of courses is Kaplan. The GMAT giants draw upon their extensive knowledge of the test and their fantastically gifted stable of instructors to offer a GMAT prep course experience like no other, and are ultimately the superior choice.

However, Princeton Review are also a very strong contender, offering more practice tests than their contender and with universally cheaper prices across the board. If you want high quality at a lower price, then Princeton Review may be the right choice for you.

Princeton Review

In order to be able to make an accurate comparison between the two GMAT course providers Princeton Review and Kaplan, we must first examine each in detail. Let’s start with Princeton Review.

Princeton Review: Course Options  

Princeton Review offers four kinds of GMAT course in total, three of which are available either online or in person, and one of which is available online only.

Self-Paced

The self-paced course is billed as a good option for those who study best at their own speed, rather than trying to work to someone else’s schedule. It’s perfect for those with a hectic professional or personal life, who prefer to schedule their own studies.

With the self-paced course you’ll have access to interactive video lessons that will teach you everything you need to know about the GMAT, along with access to professionals who can steer you around the curves on anything you find particularly difficult. There are, however, no live instruction classes, owing to the fact that it’s a self-paced course.

One very handy feature of the self-paced course is the adaptive algorithm, which responds dynamically to your progress and adjusts itself accordingly to make sure that you’re making the most out of your time. This is supplemented by 83 adaptive drills (comprising more than 3000 questions) and a respectable 10 practice tests.

At $699 at the time of writing, it’s not the cheapest GMAT course out there – but it is one of the best.

Fundamentals  

Marketed as Princeton Review’s “most efficient prep”, the Fundamentals course is the cheapest that offers live instruction – a full 27 hours of it, in fact. That instruction is delivered by some of the best in the business, and the classes are fully interactive. And if you miss a class, or want to review it at a later time, you can access the recordings that are available to every student.

In addition, you’ll get the same 10 full-length tests that you’d get on the self-paced course, and a wealth of adaptive drills to help you practice every conceivable sort of question that might come up on the GMAT.

It’s also possible to build your own drills using the ‘DrillBuilder’ feature. This allows you to focus on the areas of the GMAT that you’re struggling with, ensuring that you’re ready when the big day rolls around.

The Fundamentals course is, as mentioned, the cheapest Princeton Review course with live instruction. It comes in at $1299 in total.

GMAT 700+

 A course designed specifically for students who are already scoring well, the GMAT 700+ aims to take you to the next level and improve your chances of hitting those top percentiles.

Princeton Review argues – quite convincingly – that getting 700 or higher can mean a starting wage of around $50,000 higher than you otherwise would. The incentive to score well on the GMAT and gain admission to a top business school, then, is high for many.

The 700+ features the same 27 hours of live instruction as you’d find on the Fundamentals course, but throws 20 more hours into the mix – ten on advanced mathematics, and a further ten on advanced GMAT questions. This extra live instruction puts you in the best position possible to walk into that test room and secure the 700+ score you need to earn a place on a top MBA course.

In addition, you’ll have access to more than 2750 practice questions by way of the adaptive drills, and you’ll be provided with the same 10 practice tests offered on all Princeton Review courses.

The 700+ isn’t cheap – it’ll set you back $1699 – but for the quality of the materials and the instruction you’ll receive, that’s practically a bargain.

Personal Tutoring

Princeton Review’s final GMAT study option is by far the most expensive, but it’s also the most personalized, and is perfect for those who respond best to one-on-one instruction.

Personal tutoring doesn’t just get you the undivided attention of a GMAT expert for the duration of your course – it also gets you access to everything you’d get on the self-paced course. This means 10 full-length practice tests and 83 adaptive drills, with all the practice questions that go with that.

But it’s obviously the private tutoring that’s the draw here, and Princeton Review fully delivers. The instructors are patient, insightful and highly effective, able to quickly identify any given student’s strengths and weaknesses and tailor a study plan that’s as efficacious as possible for that individual student. If you want the best possible results, then there really is no contest – personal tutoring is the way to go.

Of course, such personalized attention comes with a hefty price tag – a 10-hour package is $1800, and an 18-hour one is $3000.

Pricing

  • Self-paced: $699
  • Fundamentals: $1299
  • 700+: $1699
  • Personal tutoring: $1800/10hrs

Princeton Review Summary

There is a reason that Princeton Review is one of the giants that dominates the GMAT course scene. With excellent materials, fantastic interactive lessons, compelling and illuminating live instruction and a great portfolio of practice tests, many of the students who plump for Princeton Review come away with a GMAT result they can be proud of.

If there is one minor nitpick to be had with Princeton Review, it’s that they don’t have a companion app for their course – something that is approaching a necessity in the smartphone-driven world of 2023. If Princeton Review were able to add this as an option to their courses, then they could well be the undisputed leaders of the GMAT prep scene. As it is, it remains a somewhat galling omission that should be remedied.

It’s also worth pointing out that all of Princeton Review’s courses are a little on the expensive side, particularly when put side by side with more budget-friendly options like Magoosh. However, the old truism that you get what you pay for bears out; with Princeton Review, you pay for the very highest quality instructors and materials. And that’s exactly what you get.


Kaplan

Now that we’ve got a good idea of what you can expect from Princeton Review’s various course options, it’s time to take a look at what’s to offer on the other side of the table – with rival and industry leader Kaplan.

Kaplan is a titan when it comes to prep courses of all descriptions – and this includes the GMAT. They’ve been in the game for a long time, and their experience and catalog of materials is simply unmatched. Their reach is such that they have taken over another GMAT prep company – Manhattan Prep – and folded it into their own company.

What does this mean? Essentially, many Kaplan courses are marketed under the ‘Manhattan Prep’ name – and appear on the websites of both – but they remain Kaplan courses, since Manhattan Prep is simply a subsidiary of Kaplan now. Though this may be confusing, it’s easiest to think of Kaplan and Manhattan Prep as the same company.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the course options on offer by Kaplan.

Kaplan: Course Options

Kaplan offer a much larger variety of courses than Princeton Review, which speaks to their increased experience and their intimate knowledge of the various types of courses that students with different needs will respond to.

On Demand

This is Kaplan’s equivalent of the self-paced course, and is well-suited for students who prefer to set their own pace. Though there is no live instruction, the interactive video classes (of which there are 35) are all designed and led by the cream of the crop. Kaplan employs only instructors who passed the GMAT in the 99th percentile, so you can be assured of the quality of their interaction lessons.

You’ll also get 6 full-length GMAT practice tests, a 7-hour ‘Foundations of Math’ workshop to help you with the Quant section, and a GMAT strategy guide set to help you formulate the best possible approach to nailing the test.

Much like the GMAT itself, the On Demand content is adaptive, and will respond to your progress as you go through the course. This means that it’s always pitched at the right level for you, and that the content that comes up is always relevant.

The On Demand course costs $999, making it a fair amount more expensive than Princeton Review’s. The question is whether or not that higher price tag is justified – a question that we’ll examine in a little more detail toward the end of this article.

Bootcamp

A course unique to Kaplan, the bootcamp is for students who are short on time and need to get ready for the GMAT as quickly as possible. The result is a high-intensity course that requires a lot of time and effort, but that is without a doubt the best way to get ready for the GMAT in a short period of time.

In order to facilitate this high-intensity crash-course style of instruction, you’ll have not one, but two instructors. Class sizes are also tightly controlled in order to ensure that you receive as much attention as possible – something that’s crucial on a course as breakneck as this one.

In total, you’ll have 35 hours of live instruction. This will be over a period of 2-3 weeks, so it’s absolutely essential that you clear your schedule completely – there is a reason that this course is called a ‘bootcamp’, and you can expect to have relatively little personal time once you factor in self-study outside of your live instruction.

The bootcamp sports a price tag commensurate with the amount of time and attention you’ll get – it comes in at $2599.

GMAT Complete Course

The GMAT Complete Course is Kaplan’s flagship one, and is roughly equal to Princeton Review’s Fundamentals course. It features 27 hours of live instruction, 6 full-length practice tests, and the 99th-percentile classroom instructors that Kaplan is so rightly famed for.

You’ll also get all of the supplementary materials that you’d get on the On Demand course. This includes the strategy guides, several eBooks focusing on various aspects of the GMAT, and a GMAT Navigator Practice Tracker to see how far along you’ve come.

As of July 2023, there are two versions of the course available. This is due to the fact that the GMAT is due to change in 2024, and the new ‘GMAT Focus’ course is designed to ensure that any students taking the test from that year onward are fully prepared for the changes.

Any students taking the test prior to 2024, however, can take the ‘classic’ course. The two courses have much in common, including their price tag of $1599.

Advanced Course

Kaplan’s analog to Princeton Review’s 700+ course is simply and straightforwardly named the ‘Advanced Course’. As Kaplan point out on their course introduction page, the last mile is the hardest – the better you get at the GMAT, the harder it is to keep improving your score.

This course requires a 650 score as a baseline, and skips a lot of the more fundamental things that you’ll learn on Kaplan’s other courses, the logic being that if you’re already scoring 650+, you don’t need to waste time learning about things like basic math. It’s a course for the best of the best, and it expects a lot from its students. In return, it will take you to the next level, and should hopefully push you into that 700+ bracket (along with all of the benefits a score of that kind implies).

You’ll have 15 hours of live instruction on the Advanced Course. This is shorter than most of the other Kaplan courses that offer live instruction, but that’s because, as mentioned, you’ll skip a lot of the basic stuff.

Your live instruction will be supplemented by all of the supplementary materials that you’ll find on all of Kaplan’s courses, including 6 full-length practice tests and adaptive drills that comprise practice questions that go into the thousands. You’ll also have the interactive videos that the other courses have, quite possibly led by the same instructors as in your live classes.

If you’re already doing well on your practice GMAT tests but need that final push into excellence, the Advanced Course is the one for you. And at $1399, it’s one of the cheaper live-instruction courses Kaplan offers.

Tutoring

Kaplan’s 1:1 course option is expensive, but that’s because you’ll be paired with their famed 99th-percentile instructors. Throughout every step of your tutoring package (which comes in blocks of ten hours) you’ll be coached by someone who is an absolute expert in the GMAT, and who is completely attuned to your needs and goals as a student. When it comes to personalized attention, Kaplan quite simply offers the best in the business.

Of course, the undivided attention of some of the world’s best GMAT experts comes at a fairly hefty price tag. You can expect to pay $2450 for ten hours, with a bulk-order discount applied if you purchase more hours.

Pricing

  • On Demand: $999
  • Bootcamp: $2599
  • GMAT Complete Course: $1599
  • Advanced Course: $1399
  • Tutoring: $2450/10hrs ($245/hr)

Kaplan Summary

Kaplan is a little on the expensive side compared to Princeton Review, but there is a good reason for that: their instructors are quite simply the best in the business, and you are guaranteed world-class tutelage when you sign up for any of their courses (outside of On Demand).

What’s more, the range of courses on offer is fantastic, with an analog to every course offered by Princeton Review, and then some. Students who find themselves needing to suddenly cram for the GMAT will be well-suited to the Bootcamp, while the fact that Kaplan have managed to craft a new course for the 2024 GMAT mere months after it was announced speaks to their diligence and knowledge of the test.

If you’ve got the money, then, you can’t really go wrong with Kaplan.


Kaplan Vs. Princeton Review GMAT: Which Is The Best?

In a nutshell: as you can see by the prices, Kaplan tends to be much more expensive than Princeton Review. When it comes to Princeton Review vs. Kaplan GMAT courses, then, it’s tempting to immediately declare Princeton Review the winner.

However, as we’ve seen, Kaplan edges out their competition with excellent instructors, a finger on the pulse of the evolving GMAT test format, and an eye for course and content creation that really speaks to their students. Yes, they charge more, but when considering the issue of Kaplan vs. Princeton Review GMAT courses, it’s vital that you take into account what you’re paying for. And with Kaplan, you’re paying for sheer quality.

Which is not to say that Princeton Review offer bad courses or low-quality materials (they don’t). It’s better, however, to think of them as a high-end ‘budget’ option. You’ll still get a great course for your money, but if you can afford it, you may well want to go with Kaplan.

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