In this Kaplan vs Prep Scholar review, I test out these two courses and explain the key differences between these two leading SAT and ACT prep providers. Because, if you’re serious about boosting your score on the SAT/ACT, you’re going to want to use a high-quality course to prep to score well on the exam.
Content Access Period
High Score Guarantee?
Kaplan SAT prep
Kaplan’s the biggest name in the test prep game, hands-down. Millions of students have completed Kaplan’s programs in preparation for the SAT and ACT. Kaplan is currently awarded a 4.6/5-star rating on TrustPilot.
Kaplan SAT pros:
- Unparalleled video quality
- Excellent books
- Premier instructors
- On Demand course ($199) which only covers SAT prep is more affordable than PrepScholar
Kaplan SAT cons:
- No mobile app
- Fewer practice questions and tests than PrepScholar
Two Harvard graduates created PrepScholar, which currently has a 3.6-5-star rating on BestCompany.
PrepScholar SAT/ACT pros:
- Generous number of practice questions and tests
- AI-driven algorithm optimizes study time
- All PrepScholar courses include ACT/SAT prep combo (Kaplan requires that you choose one or the other unless you buy the $2,000 Unlimited course)
- Study plan is marginally better (more comprehensive) than Kaplan’s
PrepScholar SAT/ACT cons:
- No books
- No mobile app
Features Face to Face
When testing out these prep courses, I like to break it out into specific categories that may cover what you’re prioritizing in your ACT and SAT prep. These are price, practice, quality, books, user experience, live classes, and score guarantees.
Over years of advising students on ACT and SAT prep, I’ve learned that no single course is best for everyone. I choose a winner per category and provide my overall top pick, but understand that this is not prescriptive and that you need to take all of your individual priorities into account when deciding the best prep for you. For example, one student may have a tight budget, while another student is really struggling with math. The course recommendations for each is going to differ based on their specific needs.
Here’s a brief breakdown of Kaplan’s and PrepScholar’s most affordable and expensive courses, respectively.
Here’s the caveat: The only option that you have for SAT, ACT, and PSAT prep all rolled into one from Kaplan is the $1,999 Unlimited course. If you go for the $699 Live Online course or the $119-$199 On Demand Course, you have to choose either SAT or ACT prep. This can be extremely important for students who plan on prepping for both the SAT and the ACT. If, however, you intend on just taking one of these tests, then you can easily choose among Kaplan’s variety of courses.
Similarly, with PrepScholar’s $397 On Demand course, you must choose a lane with either the SAT or ACT course. If you opt for the more expensive $597 Dual SAT and ACT, then you’ll benefit from being able to prep for both of these tests. Although it’s not mandatory to prep for both of these tests, there are some benefits for taking the SAT and the ACT. Learn more here.
Practice questions and tests
Every Kaplan course comes with eight practice tests and 1,000+ practice questions in its proprietary QBank. Four of the eight tests are, in fact College Board SAT practice exams.
It’s always beneficial to practice with real SAT practice tests. More specifics on the benefits of taking full-length official SAT practice tests here.
Kaplan Online SAT Practice Test
Each question comes with a thorough explanation.
Although they are similar in quality, PrepScholar quite simply dwarfs Kaplan in the sheer volume of practice questions and tests – offering 7,000+ practice questions as well as ten practice tests.
Above is the Quiz Generator tool in the PrepScholar platform that allows for you to create your own quizzes – specifically working on areas of improvement.
Quality of class material and instruction
I’ve reviewed dozens of Kaplan prep courses and, like the others, their lessons are well-organized and flow nicely from topic to topic. Kaplan uses a “learn it, drill it, prove it” model for its lessons which involves video instruction first (“learn it”), followed by drills (“drill it”), followed by quizzes to demonstrate content retention (“prove it”). PrepScholar does something similar with its “learn, practice, review” mantra.
But one thing that PrepScholar offers that Kaplan lacks is a super-smart algorithm that optimizes the study materials presented to you throughout the course. On an ongoing basis, the software assesses your strengths and weaknesses and then modifies your study materials accordingly.
As far as video quality goes, Kaplan beats out PrepScholar both in terms of production value and the engagement/attention-holding factor (an important consideration for any teenager in the age of attention spans shortened by TikTok).
Aside from the differences in production value between Kaplan and PrepScholar, they are also notably different in their tone and style. I found Kaplan’s video style laid-back and more informal, whereas PrepScholar’s videos are more businesslike (as pictured above). I imagine most high school students would appreciate the former approach rather than the dry, academic one from PrepScholar.
Above is a Kaplan SAT video, which has a bit more of a fun, classroom feel and instructor personality
Both companies also feature illustrative graphics to complement their written materials, and both are excellent. This one below is from PrepScholar, which I would give a slight edge to in terms of quality over Kaplan.
If you spring for Kaplan’s Live Online course, the company will ship four hardcopy books to you. These printed materials are also available as standalone products if you are so inclined. If you go all-out with the Unlimited course, Kaplan equips you with no fewer than ten books. Kaplan also consistently ranks among our top picks for ACT prep books, so you know you’re getting quality supplemental content.
PrepScholar provides no books for any courses, so the nod here clearly goes to Kaplan.
Learning Experience and Platform
Kaplan’s platform is simply superior to PrepScholar’s. When I was testing out the platform, I found it intuitive and easy to navigate. The design is sleek. Clearly, a lot of thought and planning went into developing Kaplan’s digital resources, as I have noticed a similar, seamless experience in all of the Kaplan courseware I’ve tried out.
Whenever you log in Kaplan, you’re directed to your Study Plan page, which tracks your progress as you work through the lessons.
Both companies, in fact, offer superb study plans that keep you on the road to success by charting out your accomplishments. These are excellent tools for those among us who require a little more external structure.
I would give the edge here to PrepScholar, though, because at the beginning of the course the system prompts you to enter lots of information regarding your goals, availability, etc. which the software uses to generate an individualized study plan rather than a boilerplate one.
Kaplan’s $699 Live Online course includes 18 hours of live instruction delivered across 9 two-hour lessons.
Both companies employ impressive expert instructors for their live courses so there’s not a huge difference in quality there.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that there is much more value in Kaplan’s live online course in terms of face-time with instructors. For me, I learn best by having a “classroom” experience, so I would personally choose the Kaplan live online course among the course options listed here in this review. There is the added benefit with the online courses that you gain access to on demand video content and Qbank.
Score Guarantees and Refunds
Kaplan’s proprietary Higher Score Guarantee (HSG) pledges that you’ll increase your SAT score from baseline or you qualify for a full refund.
PrepScholar gets even more specific, promising a +160-point increase on the SAT or a +4-point increase on the ACT.
On specificity grounds, I think Prepscholar’s score guarantee is a better promise to students.
Now that I’ve ranked these courses based on specific factors, I’m going to share a few more standout features that I found while looking at the Kaplan and PrepScholar SAT and ACT courses.
PrepScholar allows for a five-day trial period but you do have to enter your credit card info first.
PrepScholar communicates with customers via email and phone: “email us or call us at 1 (866) 811-5546.”
Kaplan, in contrast, offers many more ways to get in touch via their contact page. Their staff is generally more responsive in my experience.
Kaplan and PrepScholar each use a third-party company called Affirm for student financing, through which you can break your payments up into monthly chunks.
The only major criticism of both Kaplan and PrepScholar regarding the user experience and platform is the lack of any mobile application. Other prep companies have developed mobile apps, but Kaplan and PrepScholar haven’t for whatever reason.
The Bottom Line on PrepScholar vs Kaplan ACT/SAT Prep
Let’s recap the major points we hit here.
Use a Kaplan SAT course if:
- You’re only interested in SAT prep, not ACT or PSAT prep (see “price” section for more details)
- Video quality is the most important element
- You would like physical books to accompany your coursework
Use a PrepScholar SAT/ACT course if
- You want the maximum number of practice questions and tests
- You’d like a specific score guarantee
- You want SAT and ACT prep automatically included in a single package (with Kaplan you have to choose one or the other unless you opt for the $1,999 Unlimited course)
My Final Verdict
Now that I’ve shown who, specifically, would benefit from each course, I’d also like to share which course I think is the best. Overall, I think Kaplan’s live online and on demand courses are better than PrepScholar’s. In terms of number of hours in the classroom as well as quality of video content to accompany the class, the in person course is a much better investment. For those looking for just an on-demand course, it’s a lot more affordable and comparable to get the Kaplan course. Beyond just pricing, the Kaplan on demand videos are far superior to PrepScholar’s.
Kaplan vs Prep Scholar FAQs
Let us explore a handful of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding Kaplan and Prep Scholar prep courses.
Do both Kaplan and PrepScholar have a higher score guarantee?
Yes. Each course has its own respective higher score guarantee.
Which course is better, Kaplan or PrepScholar’s SAT prep?
Kaplan. PrepScholar has more practice questions and practice tests, but Kaplan wins out in terms of the quality of the materials.
Do both Kaplan and PrepScholar’s SAT courses include hardcopy books?
No. Kaplan includes books with its Live Online course but PrepScholar does not.