Princeton Review vs. Manhattan Prep – Which GMAT Prep Course Is Best?

by Maximilian Claessens
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Princeton Review vs. Manhattan Prep - Which GMAT Prep Course Is Best

There are a great deal of GMAT prep courses on the market, and it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff in many cases – Princeton Review and Manhattan Prep included. With so many variables (price, quality of materials, duration of access to the materials, format of the course) in addition to your individual learning habits and needs, it can be really tough to pick out the course that’s right for you.

Two of the leading GMAT prep course providers almost need no introduction. Princeton Review and Manhattan Prep are both industry leaders, and both offer high-end, high-quality courses with plenty to recommend them.

The question that many candidates have when it comes to Princeton Review vs Manhattan Prep, then, is inevitably: which is best?

During the course of this article, we plan to tackle that question with an in-depth look at both courses. This will involve assessing the quality of the study materials on both courses, how much support you can expect outside of the materials and classes initially provided, and how much each course costs.

In Brief: Princeton Review Vs. Manhattan Prep GMAT

If you’re looking for a relatively affordable course that still features excellent live instruction and supplementary materials, then Princeton Review is the best choice. With 10 practice tests, a 4-month access window to all materials, and 27 hours on their standard live-instruction course, it’s a great choice for those who don’t want to break the bank.

Conversely, if you’re happy to pay a little more, Manhattan Prep is a solid option. For a $200-300 premium, you’ll get access to course materials for 6 months, and will be instructed by world-class 99th-percentile instructors.

Princeton Review

Princeton Review is as well-regarded as any name in the GMAT prep business, and for good reason. With high-quality prep materials and excellent customer service, a great many candidates walk away from their Princeton Review prep and ace the GMAT.

Princeton Review: Course Options

As mentioned, different students have different needs, and it’s important that any GMAT prep course reflects this in the course options presented to potential students. ‘One-size-fits-all’ courses, after all, seldom fit anyone, and do not make for a good experience for many students.

Princeton Review offers four basic options, which you can find reviewed below.

GMAT Self-Paced

If you need something that works around your schedule, and not the other way around, then Princeton Review’s self-paced course is the option for you.

With self-paced, you’re given access to all the materials you need, and can set up a study schedule that suits you. You can also vary the intensity of the video lessons and test materials, meaning that if you’re finding it too much (or not enough), you can tweak it as you go.

Princeton Review’s proprietary algorithms make sure that the materials adapt to your performance as you go, presenting lessons and practice tests at an appropriate difficulty. This mirrors the actual GMAT test, which is computer-adaptive and will adjust difficulty based on your answers in order to give you a more accurate final score.

Bundled with the self-paced course are 10 full practice tests and 83 adaptive drills (which, together, comprise about 3000 practice questions), so you’ll have plenty of materials to get you ready for test day.

Finally, live support is on-hand to assist you if you really can’t wrap your head around a concept or get past a particular question.

All in all, the self-paced bundled makes for an affordable yet highly useful package.

GMAT Fundamentals

Taking things to the next level is the Fundamentals course. Though you’ll unlock many of the same materials that you gain access to on the Self-Paced course, the real draw here is the 27 hours of live instruction that you’ll receive – a real boost to your chances of passing the GMAT if you’re the kind of student that thrives on interaction with your tutors.

With small class sizes to make sure that you get enough attention from the instructor, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting your money’s worth. And what’s more, all classes are recorded and accessible to you, meaning that you’ll be able to review them at your leisure.

In addition to the live classes themselves, you’ll get full access to the same adaptive video lessons as you’d get on the Self-Paced course. You’ll also get the same 10 practice tests, and 61 adaptive drills.

It’s more expensive than the Self-Paced course, but that’s to be expected with the amount of live instruction offered with this package.

GMAT 700+

Designed for higher-achieving candidates who are already scoring quite well on the GMAT, this course takes things to the next level by guaranteeing strong candidates a score of above 700.

All Princeton Review courses carry a guarantee of scoring more highly than you did on your initial practice test, but this one is the only one to guarantee a score in the coveted 700+ bracket. There is a slight caveat – your initial score must be 620 or higher in order to be guaranteed a 700+ — but this course is, as mentioned, designed for stronger candidates in the first place. If you’re not already hitting scores of 620+, you may want to consider one of the other course options.

The GMAT 700+ offers 47 hours of live instruction in total. This comprises the 27 hours offered on the Fundamentals course, but also goes into deep dives on two other topics – 10 hours of instruction on advanced GMAT questions, and a further 10 hours of verbal and math explanation classes.

In addition to the considerable amount of live instruction, you’ll also gain access to the same 10 full-length practice tests as the other courses, and you’ll unlock almost 2600 practice questions. The same adaptive video classes as other courses are also made available to you.

The 700+ course is, of course, more expensive than the previous two options. With 47 hours of live instruction, however, you can be sure that it’s worth it.

GMAT Private Tutoring

Private tutoring is the ultimate option for those who want a fully-personalized experienced tailored exclusively for them. You’ll have the undivided attention of a GMAT expert who will be on hand to talk you through every aspect of the GMAT, and ensure that you’re ready to take the test much more quickly than with any other option.

With private tutoring you’ll be granted access to the same materials that you’d get on the Self-Paced course. This means that even when you’re not having class with your tutor, you’ll be able to get plenty of practice in to keep your new skills fresh. In fact, you’ll be able to use them even more efficiently, as you’ll be acting under the guidance of your expert tutor.

Private tutoring is, as you’d fully expect, the most expensive option when it comes to Princeton Review’s different courses. But given that you’ll be having 1:1 classes with some of the best GMAT instructors in the business, this is hardly surprising.

Princeton Review Pricing

  • Self-Paced: $699
  • Fundamentals: $1299
  • 700+: $1699
  • Private Tutoring: $167/hr

Princeton Review Summary

When it comes to the variety of courses on offer – and the materials offered on those courses – it’s hard to beat Princeton Review. They’re one of the leading names in the GMAT prep game for good reason, and this reputation is borne out by the excellent materials and variety of course types you can take.

The number of practice tests and the nature of the adaptable video materials are both excellent, and do a great job of prepping candidates for when they walk into the test room. However, one thing that does let Princeton Review down is the lack of a dedicated companion app. In an increasingly smartphone-focused world, it seems like an oversight not to offer this.

Finally, the courses are not the cheapest in the world. You get what you pay for, of course, but in comparison with cheaper options like Magoosh, some may find that Princeton Review stretches the wallet just a little too much.


Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep hasn’t been around as long as some of its competitors, including Princeton Review GMAT prep, but they have rapidly carved out a niche for themselves by focusing on something that many rivals don’t necessarily focus on: the quality of their instructors.

By employing only 99th-percentile instructors, Manhattan Prep has ensured that their students are getting the highest-quality tutelage possible, and are in the best possible position to ace the GMAT come test day.

This is not to slight the quality of Manhattan Prep’s course materials, of course, which are excellent. They are, in addition, now powered by industry leaders Kaplan, who bring their own expertise to the table and combine with Manhattan Prep’s industry-leading instructors to create a compelling package for all GMAT candidates.

Manhattan Prep: Course Options

Similarly to Princeton Review, Manhattan Prep offer several flavors of course. You can find details on each below.

Live Course

The equivalent to Princeton Review’s Fundamentals course, Manhattan Prep’s Live Course offers the same amount of live instruction – 27 hours – backed up with a host of practice materials and instructional videos.

The Live Course comes with 6 full-length GMAT practice tests, a 7-hour workshop on mathematics foundations, the Manhattan Prep GMAT companion app, access to a host of interactive video lessons, and a number of supporting materials that include eBooks and practice trackers.

If you miss any live classes, you’re able to access recorded versions of them. This obviously means you won’t have the same level of interaction as in the live class, but it does mean that you’re able to review what the other students went over in the class.

While it’s pricier than the Princeton Review equivalent – and offers fewer practice tests – many argue that the caliber of the instructors in the live classes more than makes up for it. Whether that justifies the increased price tag is a decision for you to make.

On Demand

Manhattan Prep’s self-paced course is aggressively priced, but it’s impossible to doubt the quality of the materials.

With more than 35 interactive video lessons (designed and led by Manhattan Prep’s much-vaunted 99th-percentile instructors), 6 full-length practice GMAT tests, the same 7-hour math workshop as the Live Course, unrestricted access to the app, and a great number of supplementary eBooks and reading materials, you’re unlocking access to a good amount of content.

The On Demand course is adaptive, meaning that it will adjust its difficulty as you go to make sure the lessons and practice questions are pitched at the right difficulty.

Advanced Course

Roughly analogous to Princeton’s 700+ is Manhattan Prep’s Advanced Course. You need to have a 650+ on the GMAT in order to take this course, but in exchange you’ll be granted access to an intensive course that promises to take your score to the next level.

The Advanced Course features a personalized session with an instructor both pre- and post-course in order to ensure you’re able to get the most out of the materials. It skips a lot of the basics for both Verbal and Quant, confident in the fact that students at this level are familiar with the basics and don’t need to waste time there.

As with other courses, you’ll unlock six practice courses, access to interactive instructional videos, and a wealth of supplementary materials. You’ll also have 15 hours of live instruction with a 99th-percentile instructor (of course); this live-instruction period is shorter than other courses because it’s much more focused and intensive, examining only the more advanced aspects of the GMAT.

Bootcamp

This pricey, high-intensity course is designed for those who don’t have a lot of time to get ready for the GMAT. It’s recommended for students whose test date is around 3-4 weeks away, and Manhattan Prep do not sugarcoat things by pretending that this course is less of a time investment than it is: expect to be putting in a lot of hours over a 2-3 week period, both in the live sessions themselves and in the form of pre- and post-class discussions.

The Bootcamp carries a hefty price tag, but that’s because a lot of ground is covered. There are 25 hours of high-intensity live instruction, the same 6 tests as other Manhattan Prep courses offer, on-demand interactive video lessons, an instructor-led practice test, a GMAT post-mortem after your official test, and a host of supporting materials designed to get you ready.

It’s hard work, and as mentioned it’s not exactly cheap, but if you need a GMAT course at very short notice, it’s the only way to go.

Tutoring

As with Princeton Review, personal 1:1 classes are not cheap. But they are the best way to get a personalized experience with a dedicated tutor – and, as with all things Manhattan Prep, that tutor will be a 99th-percentile GMAT veteran.

There’s no point beating around the bush: Manhattan Prep’s private tutoring is significantly more expensive than Princeton’s. Again, there is the fact that you’re guaranteed a highly capable tutor, but whether that’s worth the extra cost is something for you to decide.

In addition to the 1:1 hours you purchase (available in 10-hour blocks, with discounts applicable the more hours you buy), you’ll gain access to the materials typically found on the other courses (6 practice tests, supplementary materials, the foundational math workshop, etc.).

Manhattan Prep Pricing

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

Manhattan Prep Summary

Manhattan Prep’s GMAT course options can be summarized thusly: expensive but excellent. You’ll be paying top dollar for their courses, make no doubt about it, but due to the expertise of the instructors you may well find that this is a price you’re willing to pay. After all, isn’t it better to pay a little more upfront to ensure that you get your desired GMAT score the first time around?

The wealth of course options on offer is fantastic, outstripping Princeton Review quite easily and providing a few options that Princeton doesn’t, such as the last-minute, high-intensity bootcamp. Other points in the plus column for Manhattan include the caliber of their instructors, and the fact that they have a companion app that makes it easy to study on the go.

On the other hand, the materials, while still of a high quality, are not quite up there with Princeton Review’s, and there are fewer practice tests.


The Verdict: Manhattan Prep Vs. Princeton Review GMAT

While it’s often tempting to declare a ‘winner’ in any Princeton Review vs. Manhattan Prep GMAT review, the fact is that both companies have their pros and their cons.

If you want to find an affordable GMAT course with excellent supporting materials and strong tutors, then Princeton Review is an excellent option. Most of their courses are priced $300-400 cheaper than their Manhattan Prep equivalents, so you’ll be saving a good chunk of money. You’ll also get 10 practice tests, as opposed to 6.

On the downside, however, their instructors aren’t quite as strong, and you’ll have a shorter window of time during which you’ll be able to access your materials. Princeton Review only grants access for 4 months, as opposed to Manhattan Prep’s 6.

And Manhattan Prep’s 6-month window is not the only factor to take into consideration. Yes, there is a much heftier price tag associated with most of their courses, but you’re paying a premium not only for an extra two months’ access (that’s a 50% increase over Princeton Review), but also for their excellent instructors.

It essentially boils down, then, to a question of economy vs. quality. If the former is more important, then go with Princeton Review, if the latter is your priority, then Manhattan Prep is your best bet for GMAT prep.

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