Updated September 28, 2019
Studying for the GRE can be a daunting task, but in this article, I am going to guide you through a comparison of two of the best options on the market. If you’re looking for some more detailed information, be sure to check my pages for both Kaplan and the Princeton Review, as well as my comparison of these courses against all the top GRE courses on the market. So, who’s the best? Well, let’s ring in Round 1!
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Cost
For the initial price comparison, I’ll look at the standard Self-Paced and Live Online test prep options offered by both Kaplan and Princeton Review. But keep in mind that each of the platforms offers their own unique add-ons and specialty packages, which I will discuss in detail below.
The Princeton Review Self-Paced package runs at $499, a significantly cheaper option compared to Kaplan’s $699 Self-Paced test prep. In terms of Live Online test prep, Kaplan initially runs cheaper at $999 compared to Princeton Review’s $1199. Keep in mind, however, that Princeton Review is runs sales frequently, and at the time of writing – their Live Online courses is $300 off, from $1199 to just $899.
Winner: Princeton Review*
*Keep in mind, however, that while the Princeton Review is cheaper on average, Kaplan provides an extra 2 months of access, which might be the deciding factor for you. Part of my goal is to show you that the right choice also depends on your availability and learning style!
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Course Access / Expiration
As I mentioned above, Kaplan offers 6 months of access to their online prep materials. With the Princeton Review package, you are paying less but also receiving only 120 days of access to their course materials. With each company come the options to retake a course or extend your access if you are not satisfied with your progress or the product. We’ll dive further into each of their course guarantees below.
You should consider your unique schedule when deciding which course to buy, but for me, Kaplan gets the edge with the extra two months.
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Books
When it comes to test prep, different platforms speak to different students. I, for one, find it much easier to learn from physical resources; if this sounds like your style, then this section is for you.*
Kaplan offers two primary textbook options, both of which can be explored on their site and bought through Amazon. GRE Prep ($16) and GRE Prep Plus ($28) offer test-taking strategies, a physical and an online practice test, and access to Kaplan faculty for Q&A on their Facebook page. The Plus option adds an extra online test, the useful QuizBank tool (see Practice comparison below), and a mobile friendly platform.
By contrast, the Princeton Review has options ranging from $10-40, and even though the upper range is a bit more expensive than Kaplan, the Princeton Review carries the day on the strength of their versatility: their site currently boasts over 20 textbook options! From subject-specific drill books to comprehensive strategies and practice tests, the ability to choose the right book for you (at the right price) is a big win for book users.
Winner: Princeton Review
*I still encourage those who purchase books to combine their studying with an online prep course. Online courses are generally updated more frequently and provide great structured study plans that can make a huge difference in your GRE preparation.
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Practice Questions
Practice Questions are the heart of GRE Prep. Kaplan puts their best foot forward in this category, offering students two individual practice options: QuizBank ($69 value including 2500+ GRE questions and quizzes you can customize by difficulty and subject-matter) and Practice Pack ($149 value including: QuizBank, practice tests, and mobile flashcards). But to take it one step further, there is the Kaplan-exclusive Official Test Day Experience ($150), which allows you to take a live practice test and simulate all aspects of GRE test day.
While the Princeton Review does not offer separate practice packages (apart from their physical books described above), they do provide potential users with a free practice test, a free live seminar and a 14-day trial, which includes a (limited) sample of their online course materials. In terms of practice materials provided in the course, both Princeton Review and Kaplan offer a plethora of content. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Kaplan: 8 recorded instructional video sessions, 5,000+ practice questions, Quiz Bank (which creates custom quizzes based on difficulty and subject), 7 full-length practice tests, 180 hours of online instruction and practice, Email-based support, GRE textbooks: GRE Premier: Course Book Edition, GRE Math Workbook, GRE Verbal Workbook, and GRE Pocket Reference (Kindle option available), and a flashcard app.
Princeton Review: 24 hours of recorded video lessons by GRE test experts, more than 470 practice drills, 8 full-length and adaptive practice tests, 3500 practice questions, and the unique Princeton Review higher score guarantee – “you’ll score higher, or we’ll refund your tuition.” This guarantee can go a long way, as the Review also offers an entire year of access if you are unsatisfied for ANY reason (regardless of score). See the Princeton Review website for more specifics on their guarantees.
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Flashcards
Studying on-the-go can be crucial for students working a busy schedule apart from test prep.
The Princeton Review offers customizable flashcards, accessible within the online course materials. They do not have a mobile platform, but just like with their practice questions sets, there are options to purchase Princeton Review physical flashcard packs. These 500-card packs focus on vocabulary and sentence structure and they run for $13 on Amazon.
With the Kaplan GRE Review, your online materials come complete with free access to their mobile app, including a sleek interface designed for flashcards. Kaplan’s flashcard library (also 500 cards) features common GRE vocabulary, context clues and synonyms. It also allows you to customize your card stack and track your performance.
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Course Formats
Both test-prep companies offer a plethora of package and format options. Choosing the right one for you is important—but it can be challenging to sift through all of the courses on offer. Here is a quick breakdown of the options for each:
The Princeton Review GRE Course Formats:
- Self-Paced Online ($499): Recorded video lessons; 8 adaptive computer tests (with score reports); DrillSmart technology, which curates lessons in response to your unique subject performance
- Ultimate Live Online ($899): all self-paced features plus 180+ hours of total instruction, 24 hours of live instruction, drills, and thousands of practice questions
- Private Tutoring ($1800 or $3000): Access to a personal, live instructor in person or online for options of 15 or 18 hours. Study one or two days each week, with extreme versatility to make scheduling for your unique availability a breeze. Private tutoring also comes with the Princeton Guarantee!
Kaplan GRE Course Formats
- Self-Paced Online ($699): 18 hours video instruction; The Official Test Day Experience; 7 full-adaptive computer tests; 180+ hours of instruction; QuizBank; 2 prep books. Online Plus Option adds 35 hours of live instruction for extra $200
- Live Online ($999): All Self-Paced Plus options, plus extra 3 hours of online instruction. Plus options adds 3 hours 1-on-1 coaching for extra $300
- Private Tutoring ($2199, $3299, $4399): Access to complete In-person or Live Online Course, plus a unique study plan with a personal GRE coach; price options are for 15, 25- or 35-hour plans
Both companies offer similar structures to their courses, although the value for Princeton Review is higher, with most of the unique Kaplan features coming in their more expensive Plus package option. For example, with the Live Online Plus, you can get a 3-hour taste of Kaplan’s private tutoring. While this can be helpful for some, if you are the type of student who really thrives in a private setting, you still might need the full package anyway in order to reap the full rewards.
Winner: Princeton Review
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Video Lectures
When it comes to the quality and content of their respective recorded lectures, Kaplan and Princeton Review go toe-to-toe. Both feature instructors with extensive training in GRE strategies and teaching and combine one-on-one style lectures with mock classroom demonstrations and exercises. These help you feel like you are in the room with the instructor rather than listening watching through a screen.
Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Retake Options
Sometimes, test-taking doesn’t go as planned. If you find that your review course is not meeting the standards that you expected, or perhaps you don’t feel the right degree of improvement, there are options for to be refunded or retake the review course.
With Kaplan, if your GRE score doesn’t improve after completing an entire course, you might qualify for a full refund. Conversely, if you are unhappy with the score or course for any reason, you may retake the same course at no additional charge. Keep in mind: if you choose the repeat option, you will no longer be qualified for a refund. See the Kaplan website for specifics on their refund and repeat policies.
The Princeton Review offers some truly impressive guarantees. With the Readiness Guarantee, you are eligible to retake the same course or one of their refreshers if available. If you complete the course and are not satisfied with the result (no matter your score) you can continue working with Princeton Review for up to one more year, thanks to their Satisfaction Guarantee. And finally, if you find that your score has not improved (and you met all requirements during your specific course) you can request a full refund of your tuition. As always, there are unique conditions, so be sure to check the Princeton Review website for full information.
Winner: Princeton Review
Before determining an overall winner, let’s recap all of the differences between Kaplan and The Princeton Review’s GRE courses.
Princeton Review vs Kaplan GRE Comparison Table
|Feature||The Princeton Review||Kaplan|
|Course Access / Expiration||120 days||6 months|
|Physical Books||20 Subject and General Practice and Textbooks||2 Textbooks|
|Practice Questions||Free Tests and Seminar||QuizBank, Official Test-Day Experience|
|Flashcards||Online Access||Mobile Flashcards|
|Course Formats||Self-Paced, Live Online, Affordable Private Tutoring||Self-Paced, Live Online, In-Person and Tutoring|
|Refund/Retake||Satisfaction and Readiness Guarantee, Full Refund available||Free Course Retake, Full Refund available|
Now you’re wondering who’s the best, right? Kaplan offers their unique QuizBank, mobile accessibility, and an extra 2 months of access. But the Princeton Review offers students better prices and options across all formats, consistent discounts, a host of physical study materials, and multiple satisfaction guarantees. After my review of each,
The Princeton Review won in 4 of the 7 major categories, and The Princeton Review comes out slightly on top.
More To Consider
Everything I do here is meant to help you prepare for YOUR test in YOUR way. Be sure to check out other pages on the site for a full head-to-head of 7 leading GRE prep courses. While you’re at it, maybe pay a visit to my current top-ranked option: Magoosh. Now that you’re even more informed, it’s time to choose the right program for you and get ready to CRUSH the GRE!