In this Kaplan vs Princeton Review GRE prep course comparison, we’ll take you deep into the GRE test prep offerings from both Kaplan and Princeton Review, exploring their relative benefits and drawbacks.
Here is the Kaplan vs Princeton Review GRE prep course guide. At the end, you’ll have a better idea of which test prep company suits your GRE prep needs better.
- 21 classroom hours
- 180+ online instruction/practice
- 40+ hours GRE Channel videos
- Test day GRE simulation
- 45 hours live instruction
- 61+ online drills / lessons
- Live math instruction
- 162+ Score Guarantee (optional)
10% Off with Code TPN10
Overview: Kaplan vs. Princeton Review GRE Course
Kaplan and Princeton Review are arguably the two biggest names in test prep – and they both offer GRE prep courses that are listed in our top 5 (see here). Regularly, they supply both in-person (subject to irregularity due to COVID-19) and online GRE test prep courses with options for on-demand content and personal tutoring.
Let’s start the Princeton Review vs Kaplan GRE prep matchup with a basic introduction to each company and a brief overview of their GRE prep courses:
Princeton Review GRE Course: The Essentials
Princeton Review (not affiliated with Princeton University) entered the test prep market in the early 80s. Since then, it has grown to rival the biggest names in test prep services. Based on the consistently positive web commentary from users concerning Princeton Review’s products, the company’s GRE prep is highly regarded.
The self-paced option (the most basic) offers 8 practice tests, over 60 online drills and interactive lessons, and over 2,500 practice questions. Students in the self-paced course can also access live online instruction for the math section of the exam and on-demand video lessons, both of which can come in handy.
The pricier GRE 162+ Score Guaranteed prep course offers the basic features of the self-paced course plus 45 hours of live instruction from a “GRE expert,” 20 more hours of supplemental quantitative and verbal material, over 4,000 drills, and a one-on-one study manager.
For some, the most attractive feature of the GRE 162+ Score Guaranteed prep course is the 162-minimum score guarantee. We’ll take a close look at the fine print in Princeton Review’s score guarantee later.
Princeton Review currently has a 4.6/5-star rating on Google My Business. Also, the company has a 4/5-star average on TrustPilot.
The feedback from learners in Princeton Review’s GRE prep course generally indicate a positive experience:
“Very flexible and innovative company which works hard to tailor courses to the needs of both groups and individuals.”-Jennifer Rucker
- Minimum score guarantee available.
- More practice tests.
- Personalized feedback on the analytical writing assessment (AWA) section.
- Practice questions that adapt to individual learning levels with proprietary “DrillSmart” technology.
- Fewer course options.
- Fewer practice questions.
Kaplan GRE Prep Course: The Essentials
Kaplan has been around for the better part of a century. Over 2 million aspiring students of higher education utilize its test prep services every year. In many eyes, Kaplan is the undisputed industry leader in test prep.
Kaplan offers GRE test-takers more options than Princeton Review. The company currently has the following GRE prep courses, starting with the most basic to the most expensive: the self-guided course ($449), the self-guided course “plus” ($699), in-person GRE prep course ($1,199) (currently unavailable due to COVID-19), the online course ($999), and the online course “plus” ($1,299).
All courses come with 7 full-length, computer-based practice exams, 5,000+ “Qbank” practice questions, 21 core classroom hours with an expert instructor, 180+ hours of online instruction and practice, 40+ hours of exclusive live and recorded lessons on the GRE Channel, and the “Official Test Day Experience” that simulates a realistic test day scenario.
When you opt for the “plus” options, you also get two additional math resources: GRE Math Foundations ($299 Value) and GRE Advanced Math ($299 Value). With the online course “plus,” you enjoy access to three hours of personalized tutoring as well.
Who says customer service is a lost art? In particular, a large proportion of users seems to be impressed with the customer service of Kaplan:
“Just wanted to give a quick nod to Kiarra W, who helped me resolve a billing issue with my Kaplan account. It’s always a nice surprise to find great customer service, especially in the time of COVID when everyone is stretched so thin.”-Anna, New York
- Slightly more affordable.
- Highly rated mobile app.
- Impressively large vault of practice questions.
- Longer access to prep content (6 months compared to Princeton Review’s 4 months).
- Fewer practice tests.
- Platform is less user-friendly.
Princeton vs Kaplan GRE Review: Head-to-Head Matchup
To flesh out a bit of the most important differences and whittle down the Kaplan or Princeton Review GRE prep decision, here are the key features of each company’s courses and how they stack up against each other.
Most Affordable GRE Course
Most Expensive GRE Course
The price differential between the basic offerings of Kaplan vs Princeton Review’s GRE prep course packages is not vast; their self-guided courses are priced at $449 and $499 respectively, with Kaplan being slightly more affordable at the lowest price tier.
As you move into the higher price ranges for courses that offer access to additional GRE prep materials and personalized instruction from experts, the price gap begins to widen in Kaplan’s favor as Princeton Review’s courses edge near the $2,000 mark.
Ultimately, because the course costs are relatively parallel, the Kaplan vs. Princeton Review price issue might not be decisive in this case. Nonetheless, the economical nod goes to Kaplan.
Practice Questions & Tests
In their GRE prep courses, Kaplan has more than double the amount of practice questions than Princeton Review (5,000 compared to 2,500). However, Princeton Review has one more practice test than Kaplan (8 compared to 7).
Kaplan’s well-curated Qbank practice question reservoir is highly valued by students who provide feedback for the course.
Princeton Review’s practice questions, on the other hand, are optimized by a computer-directed algorithm called DrillSmart that adapts to the level of the test-taker to guide your development along a positive-growth trajectory. If you opt for Princeton Review’s 162+ guarantee course, you’ll gain access to over 2,500 of these practice questions.
Also, Princeton Review has one more practice test than Kaplan (a small but important advantage) and hosts several free GRE practice tests and other resources available to all.
Considering all the factors – although Kaplan’s roster of Qbank practice questions is superb — Princeton Review wins out.
Class Materials & Instruction
The class materials and instruction are obviously the “bread-and-butter” of any prep course. For both Princeton Review and Kaplan, these are highly-rated aspects of their courses.
Princeton Review’s prep courses feature 60 online drills and interactive lessons, live online instruction for the math section of the exam, on-demand video lessons, and, for the 162+ prep courses, access to a one-on-one study manager.
Kaplan offers 21 core classroom hours with an expert instructor, 180+ hours of online instruction and practice, 40+ hours of exclusive live and recorded lessons on the GRE Channel, and an “Official Test Day Experience” that simulates a realistic test day scenario.
In terms of physical books (sometimes the more nostalgic among us that need that “paper feel” when we study), Kaplan offers its GRE Prep and GRE Prep Plus textbooks. With its “plus” course, you also get Kaplan’s GRE Math Foundations and GRE Advanced Math textbooks.
Princeton Review, with its 162+ score packages, offers its own TPR Quant 162+ Manual and TPR Verbal 162+ Manual. Princeton Review also sells over 20 GRE books online as supplementary materials.
Each company includes its own proprietary study materials in all of its courses. The quality and volume of these materials are what make the two stand out as industry leaders in GRE test prep. Choosing the superior of the two in this category is a dilemma.
Learning Experience & Platform
With Princeton Review offering all-online GRE instruction and Kaplan having suspended its GRE in-person instruction in favor of the web for the time being, the quality of the study platform structure and function is all the more important.
In and of itself, when compared to other prep courses, Kaplan’s learning platform is definitely optimal. With over 180 hours of online instruction and its extra resources to help with the math sections, Kaplan’s platform deserves no criticism.
But when the praiseworthy Kaplan platform is compared to Princeton Review’s, a clear winner emerges!
Efficiency is an important component of any learning platform. If you’re like millions of other Americans who plan and execute study routines poorly, Princeton Review’s one-on-one study manager can really help a lot with time management and staying committed to a solid study routine.
Another major advantage of The Princeton Review in this “platform” competition is the interactive score report – a detailed analysis following a practice test that helps diagnose performance issues and then course-correct to address them.
Again, the algorithm-powered DrillSmart technology used in Princeton Review’s GRE prep, which we’ve mentioned already, represents a smarter, more time-efficient method of study because it targets your areas of improvement as you move through practice questions.
The general feedback on the personal instructors in each of the company’s higher-tier prep course offerings is positive.
However, Princeton Review’s instructors take the cake, both in terms of credentials and in terms of how prep course participants review them online.
Katie Bee on Trustpilot writes a typical analysis of Princeton Review’s instructors:
“My instructor was wonderful, taking time to make sure each student understood a solution and answering any questions thoroughly. She was also great at responding to emails throughout the course, and was eager to help any way she could.”Katie Bee
Nonetheless, the nod for depth of instructor experience must go to Kaplan. In addition to hosting instructors with deep backgrounds in academia, many of Princeton Review’s GRE tutors have decades’ worth of experience administering GRE prep to students. While experience doesn’t count for everything, such a long academic and professional history surely says something about the quality of their work.
Furthermore, the generally positive web reviews of Kaplan’s instructors from those who have taken its GRE prep courses are no less adamant than those for Princeton Review’s instructors:
“The [Kaplan] instructor Christen was so interactive and informative with everything she taught. She was truly an incredible resource. I now look at questions completely different than I used to and have been getting so many correct in a row compared to prior.”-Alexa
Score Guarantees and Refunds
More adventurous test-takers probably go “all-in” on test day; it’s sink or swim. “Score guarantees” might be irrelevant to this group.
Other more cautious GRE preppers, on the other hand, might find benefit in a score guarantee that promises a certain numerical threshold in your GRE score that is backed up by a cash refund.
The GRE is divided into quantitative (math) and verbal sections. As such, with its 162+ GRE prep options, Princeton Review offers a 162 minimum score guarantee on either the quantitative or verbal sections alone, or both.
You can get the TPR Quant 162+ that covers the quantitative section alone, the TPR Verbal 162+ that covers the verbal section alone, or, lastly, you can opt for the GRE 162+ Guaranteed (Quant & Verbal) combination ($1,899).
Princeton Review’s score guarantee is more flexible than Kaplan’s in this regard.
Kaplan does offer a similar refund program that it calls its “Higher Score Guarantee.” Its GRE courses qualify for this program. If you want to get a refund from Kaplan for one of its GRE courses, then you have 60 days from the end of your six-month membership to take the GRE, get your results, and present them to Kaplan.
From there, one of two scenarios develops:
- If you did not score higher than your initial attempt after taking the course, you qualify to either take the course again or to get your money back.
- If you scored higher but you don’t believe the increase was significant enough to justify the time and energy poured into the prep course, you can take the course again but, unfortunately, you can’t get your money back.
All that to say that Princeton Review’s score guarantee is more precise, has fewer “catches,” and the company features its guarantees more prominently in its courses, suggesting that the commitment to delivering higher scores via a cash-backed guarantee is more steadfast. (Take a look at the super-lawyerly fine print on Kaplan’s “refund requirements” page).
Standout Features of Kaplan vs Princeton Review GRE Prep Courses
To move you along in the decision-making process, here are some standout features of each course side-by-side that might better inform your choice of your #1 GRE prep course:
Everyone loves free trials! Aside from being great marketing gimmicks, free trials are the tried-and-true method to get familiar with a new product, to “test the waters,” and to decide if it seems right for you.
The catch with test prep courses, though, as with all commodities, is in the fine print. Is the free trial legit?
Princeton Review offers users a free GRE course trial. The contents of the trial include a free adaptive practice test that is then graded to produce analytics about your strengths and weaknesses, a handful of GRE prep video content, and drills with Princeton Review’s patented DrillSmart program.
To access it, you have to create an account on the site that requires providing a registered phone number (a bit of a time hassle) with ensuing instructions to verify it. The trial lasts for 14 days, though, which is a decent length of access to get an idea of how you feel about the platform.
Kaplan, likewise, offers a similar GRE prep trial – although this one only lasts a week (half that of Princeton Review’s). It only includes access to a practice test as well as a few promotional videos, a “Question of the Day” feature, and a “20-minute workout” session with 12 GRE practice questions.
Princeton Review makes a significantly more laudable effort to actually connect the potential user with the features of their GRE prep course to project a more holistic sampling of what their courses offer you as the customer.
The practice question competition between Princeton Review and Kaplan is fierce; which company has the superior practice question game may be the toughest call of this head-to-head review.
Kaplan offers users an excess of 5,000 practice questions from its “Qbank” reserve, which you can customize yourself to create quizzes that cover your testing weak spots (i.e., where you can potentially maximize growth).
Princeton Review has a substantial deficit of practice questions compared to Kaplan (2,500 vs Kaplan’s 5,000). Princeton Review’s primary practice question advantage is its adaptive DrillSmart technology that automatically targets your area of potential growth – saving you time that you can use for other, more fruitful, test prep endeavors.
Compared to Princeton Review, Kaplan’s student support is better-reviewed for all of its test prep courses, including the GRE.
Hearing reports from frustrated course-takers about lengthy gaps in communication from Princeton Review staff and a lackadaisical approach to returning emails and calls isn’t uncommon.
Kaplan, on the other hand, enjoys a better reputation about getting back to its customers in a timely manner.
Also, Kaplan offers a more convenient array of methods to get in touch on its contact page: by phone, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and its live chat feature on its own platform. Princeton Review, in contrast, can only be reached by its web contact form or by calling 1-800-273-8439.
Most people don’t have thousands of dollars in their bank accounts, so if you need to finance your prep course, rest assured that you are not alone.
Per Kaplan’s terms and conditions, Kaplan offers “Installment Billing” which breaks the payment for the course up into three payments over time. Kaplan does also offer the possibility of setting up a monthly recurring payment plan though a third-party affiliate called Affirm, Inc.
Princeton Review, on the other hand, typically requires full payment up front. Per its respective terms and conditions page, payment for the self-paced course ($499) is due before the course begins.
For Princeton Review’s online classes, in-person classes, and tutoring programs, there is some apparent wiggle room: “If you enroll within 10 days of the start of a course, you must pay in full at the time of enrollment. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if TPR has approved a payment plan for you, then payments are due in accordance with such plan, but you must still pay the deposit when you enroll.”
For simplicity’s sake, Kaplan offers the superior, more flexible option because it allows standard payment plans for all of its courses.
The Bottom Line of Kaplan vs Princeton Review GRE Prep Course:
Use Kaplan GRE prep course if you:
- Want a ton of practice questions in your test prep (Kaplan has the most).
- Want more time (6 months) to work through the material.
- Plan to study on the go (Kaplan’s GRE prep course app is top-notch).
- Prioritize value (Kaplan’s courses are slightly more affordable).
- Want more selection in courses.
Use Princeton GRE prep course if you:
- Want a more intuitive, user-friendly platform and learning experience.
- Want a specific score guarantee (162) that comes standard in its GRE prep package.
- Struggle with the analytical writing assessment (AWA) portion of the test (Princeton Review offers personalized feedback from an expert).
- Want to use more efficient practice questions via DrillSmart adaptive computing.
In terms of quality of instruction and delivering the “goods” in the form of higher test scores on exam day, both Kaplan and Princeton Review’s GRE prep courses are highly rated. They each have exceptionally high ratings on review websites, their materials are developed by subject-matter experts, their teachers come from the ranks of academia, and their instruction methods are well-honed.
Ultimately, your decision should come down to the slight differences in each company’s course price, materials, usability of the platforms, and the score guarantees that we explored in detail here.
Grad school admission just a blink of the eye away when you prepare with one of these top-tier GRE prep courses.
We hope you enjoyed this Kaplan vs Princeton Review GRE Comparison. Which course did you try? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!