Updated May 9, 2020
If you need help studying for the GRE, you’re likely shopping around for a GRE prep course to improve your chances on the real test. Magoosh and Kaplan both offer popular courses to prepare you for the GRE. But which is better?
This article will detail the pros and cons between the two courses t0 help you make the right decision. You can also check out our full, individual breakdowns of both Magoosh and Kaplan’s GRE courses.
Magoosh has one of the most competitive prices. For $179, you can access their full library of course materials, videos, and practice tests for six months. That price is lowered to $149 to access the same amount of content for just one month. Besides the differences in subscription time, the packages remain the exact same.
On the other hand, Kaplan offers a multitude of different options. You can receive GRE prep in person, during live classroom sessions online, or at your own pace with pre-prepared materials. The self-paced option, which most closely matches with Magoosh’s prep course, is nearly four times as expensive at $700. You can also access a premium “Plus” option for an additional $200, for a total of $899. The in-person and live online sessions are significantly more expensive, up to $1,449 for the In Person Plus option.
While Kaplan offers much more material at their premium pricepoint, Magoosh is an affordable option with a lot of resources on its own. If you don’t want to break the bank on a prep course but you still would like access to a sizeable library of videos, questions, and various guides, Magoosh is a clear winner.
Kaplan is the costlier of the two, but for good reason: it offers far more material than Magoosh. All course options come with:
- 5,000 practice questions
- 7 practice tests
- 180 hours worth of lessons in video library
- 4 GRE textbooks/workbooks
The Self-Paced option also includes an extra 18 hours of course time on top of those features, all available online for 6 months. The Self-Paced Plus option includes 35 hours of elective live instruction, as well as supplemental Math and Advanced Math material, with over 200 practice questions and over 7 hours of lessons. Other options can also include additional tutoring or coaching sessions for an increased price.
Kaplan offers a score predictor, and it individualizes your practice questions so that you have more practice in the areas you need more help in. For instance, if you consistently score better on Verbal questions compared to Quant questions, you will find yourself studying more Math questions during the program.
Magoosh doesn’t have different options, so both the 1-month and 6-month plans have the same content, listed below:
- 250 video lessons
- 1,200 practice questions
- 3 practice tests
Each video lesson is around 5 minutes long, so the library totals to just under 21 hours long. The practice tests, according to Magoosh’s website, are compiled from unused practice questions, so keep in mind that you technically get even fewer practice questions than that.
Each Magoosh practice question is graded on a scale of Easy to Very Hard. They offer fairly accurate GRE score predictors that weight each question based on the difficulty of that question.
Despite having fewer materials than Kaplan, Magoosh still offers a sizeable amount of video lessons and practice questions. In fact, most students don’t end up using the majority of material that Kaplan provides. If you’re studying for the GRE for a few weeks or months, then Magoosh probably offers enough resources to satisfy your needs. However, if you’re looking for an incredibly comprehensive compilation of resources and practice testds, go for Kaplan.
While the Verbal and Quantitative sections require the most focus, the writing section of the GRE still requires review and, at times, guidance.
Here, Kaplan emerges as a clear winner. You can submit up to two essays at a time and expect to have them graded by qualified Kaplan instructors within just a few days. These instructors also offer individualized feedback for your essays, using the same rubric the GRE essay graders use.
Magoosh does not offer any essay grading feature. Instead, Magoosh offers several videos, blog posts, and articles with tips on how to write the Analytical Writing Assessment. These can be useful, but they can’t compare to actual practice essays that are graded and given feedback.
If you find that the prep course didn’t help you score higher on the GRE, both Kaplan and Magoosh promise customer satisfaction with their money-back guarantee.
Magoosh offers a 5 point guarantee: If you completed the program (watch all lesson videos, take all practice questions, and watch video explanations for the questions you answered incorrectly) and didn’t receive a 5 point increase on the exam, you can get a full refund for the course. To be eligible for this guarantee, you must have a Paypal account and have taken an official GRE test before using Magoosh’s prep course, and that test must be less than 5 years old. You must also e-mail a copy of your “before” report when you sign up. If you don’t submit a screenshot or scanned copy at the beginning of your course, you cannot be eligible.
Kaplan’s guarantee is just for a higher score – if your score increases by even one point, you are no longer eligible for the guarantee. Like Magoosh, you must complete all of your lesson plans, complete the practice tests, and do the practice questions to be eligible for the exam. That being said, keep in mind that Kaplan has 5,000 practice questions, 7 tests, and 18 hours of content to go through. If you don’t complete all these resources, you won’t be eligible for the money-back guarantee.
While Kaplan also requires you to have a baseline score before enrolling in one of their GRE prep courses, you may take a proctored Kaplan diagnostic test instead of the official exam. That may be substituted for the official score.
However, with Kaplan, you may opt to retake the course instead of receiving a refund. All courses except ones with tutoring options offer this option for free. If you choose to retake, Kaplan will register you for the same program for another 3 months. Remember, if you retake the course, you cannot have your money refunded.
Both options are relatively comparable. It really does depend on what you prefer – if you like the retake option, Kaplan might be best for you. However, Magoosh’s score increase guarantee is designed to protect against any flukes in testing by requiring a 5 point increase. Kaplan’s guarantee, on the other hand, is very easy to not reach: If you don’t exhaust all of their resources in six months, and you get just one point higher on your GRE, you’re stuck with that $700 bill. For that reason, Magoosh has the better guarantee.
For this, Magoosh has the best option, simply because only Magoosh has a no-strings-attached refund policy. If you feel that the course isn’t right for you within 7 days of signing up, you can ask for a refund, no questions asked. You don’t have to prove anything to quit the program.
Kaplan does not offer any such policy. If you pay for one of their courses, it’s in your best interest to commit to it and get your money’s worth out of it. However, if you find that Kaplan’s practice tests and video lessons do not offer what you need out of a prep course, you might regret your $700 purchase.
Overall, Magoosh is probably the safest and most economical GRE prep course to take.
That being said, keep in mind that Kaplan pulled ahead when it came to the number of materials and services offered. If money and guarantee promises aren’t of concern to you, Kaplan is the more comprehensive and detailed course. If you need a lot of examples to study, or you like a lot of practice tests to track your progress, Kaplan may be the best choice for you.
Magoosh, however, offers quite a bit of value for a reasonable price, with a 7-day refund policy and a great higher score guarantee. If you have any doubts about taking a prep course for the GRE, you can have your money refunded with no risk. Keep in mind that Magoosh still offers over 1,000 practice questions with guided explanations for each question, and you can still use free resources to supplement if you feel that you need them.
Both offer enough video lessons and practice questions that, whichever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself prepared and confident on test day.
Also, check out this comprehensive list of top-rated GRE courses to see how Kaplan and Magoosh compare.