If you’re considering Magoosh vs Kaplan GRE courses, then you are likely among the roughly 400,000 American students planning to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in 2021. Magoosh and Kaplan are two premier test prep providers to consider for your GRE prep.
Magoosh’s courses are self-directed (“on-demand”) while Kaplan’s more versatile courses are on-demand, live online, or in-person. Both Magoosh and Kaplan made our list for the 5 Best Gre Prep Courses for this year, so rest easy knowing that you can’t go wrong with either of these courses.
Each company offers a free trial to test out its learning platform, instruction methods, and materials. Let’s dive into this head-to-head matchup.
- 21 classroom hours with instructor
- 180+ hours of online instruction + practice
- 40+ hours live & recorded lessons – GRE Channel
- Extremely affordable plans
- Great mobile accessibility
- 5+ score improvement guarantee
Overview: Magoosh vs Kaplan GRE Course
Before we get into the details of their respective features, here is a brief introduction to each GRE prep company.
Magoosh GRE Prep Course
Magoosh achieved test prep prominence with its no-frills, all-online format, a low price point (1/4 the cost of GRE test prep competitors), a solid 7-day guarantee, and a 5-point score improvement guarantee.
Magoosh has amassed a 4.7/5 star rating on TrustPilot.
Magoosh GRE Prep Course Pros:
- Super specific score guarantee (+5 points)
- Much more affordable than Kaplan’s GRE courses.
- Generous free trial offer.
- Intuitive, user-friendly mobile app with 24/7 support.
Magoosh GRE Prep Course Cons:
- Fewer course materials than Kaplan.
- No essay prep.
Kaplan GRE Prep Course
Across the world, 2.1 million students take Kaplan’s various test prep courses each year. For GRE prep, Kaplan offers on-demand, live online, and in-person learning options. GRE preppers who use Kaplan have the option of adding “extras” like 3 hours of personal tutoring and additional coursework (at a higher price tier, of course).
Kaplan has a 4.6/5 star rating on TrustPilot.
Kaplan GRE Test Prep Pros:
- More course choices/greater flexibility.
- A wealth of course materials (books, practice questions, tests).
- Option for live learning/tutoring.
- More vetted/better established test prep provider.
- Includes prep for the essay portion of the GRE.
Kaplan GRE Test Prep Cons:
- Significantly costlier than Magoosh GRE courses.
- Score guarantee not as solid.
Magoosh vs Kaplan GRE Review: Head-to-Head Matchup:
Now that you know a little about each company, let’s get into the meat of the Kaplan vs Magoosh GRE prep course comparison.
Most Affordable GRE Course
Most Expensive GRE Course
The price category – which is a dealbreaker for many of us on a tight budget – is where Magoosh shines in contrast to Kaplan. As a student, you are paying a premium for the name recognition and reputation of Kaplan. For some, the personal comfort of knowing that they are learning with arguably the industry leader in test prep is worth the extra money.
A lot of GRE preppers, though, just want the essential test prep materials and tools at the lowest price point possible. If you are in this camp, then Magoosh should be your top choice for price among Kaplan vs Magoosh GRE options.
Practice Questions & Tests
Kaplan’s practice questions and tests set it apart from most other test prep providers that it competes against, including Magoosh.
Kaplan’s customizable “Qbank” question bank and personalized homework assignments, likewise, are optimized to identify and meet your individual prep needs based on your strengths and weaknesses.
When building out a quiz in Kaplan’s GRE Qbank, you can choose the timing mode, question difficulty, and what question types and content areas you’d like to be quizzed on:
- 7 full-length practice tests
- 5,000+ practice questions
No rundown of Kaplan’s test practices and test would be complete without a nod to their “Official Test Day Experience” that augments its practice tests by simulating the environment of the actual task in a real-life exam setting at a local testing facility.
Magoosh takes its practice test questions from your “pool of unanswered” practice questions, so the practice questions and tests that you get are essentially reconfigurations of the same set. You can get limited clarification on practice questions with support resources like explanatory links to external sources, alternative explanations in other Magoosh lessons, and other aids. Magoosh offers its students:
- 3 practice tests
- 1,000 practice questions
Both in terms of volume and quality, Kaplan edges out Magoosh in the practice test and question arena.
Class Materials & Instruction
In the class materials and instruction Magoosh vs Kaplan GRE matchup, Kaplan again outperforms Magoosh.
When you enroll in Kaplan’s “LiveOnline Plus” course, you will get the following books in addition to the wealth of online material:
- GRE Math Foundations ($299 value)
- GRE Advanced Math ($299 value)
Although the verbal and quantitative (math) sections are the most challenging parts of the GRE to many learners, the test does also have a writing component called the “Analytical Writing Assessment” (AWA). If you score well on the two main sections but fail the AWA portion of the test, your overall test results will suffer.
Kaplan’s biggest advantage in the materials and instruction competition, arguably, is the essay help that it offers. When you enroll in Kaplan’s prep courses, you can send two practice essays to test prep experts who review them and send personalized feedback to help you optimize your writing.
You also have on-demand access to Kaplan’s touted GRE channel with tons of 40+ hours of recorded lessons – enough for days of test prep if you are so inclined.
Magoosh’s GRE courses are all-online, so you won’t be getting any physical books or other materials in the mail. You will, though, be able to access dozens of hours of high-quality video lessons.
Learning Experience & Platform
Kaplan’s LiveOnline course option features 21 hours of live instruction hosted on its online platform. At the highest price point ($1,299 for LiveOnline Plus), you can access 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring.
You also have more options for how to learn with Kaplan compared to Magoosh – in-person, online, or a hybrid design. Kaplan has currently suspended its GRE in-person instruction due to COVID-19, but they may resume once officials relax social distancing guidelines.
Analytics are an important area of test prep if you want to optimize your study plan for time-effectiveness. When you take one of Kaplan’s practice tests, you receive a “Smart Report” that analyzes your performance, noting areas of strength and weakness to optimize your study plan moving forward.
Magoosh’s online dashboard, home to its own analytics tools — although fewer R&D resources might have gone into developing them compared to Kaplan — is nothing to scoff at.
Magoosh’s “Suggested Lessons” feature uses analytic tools similar to Kaplan’s to identify the areas that you are struggling with the most and focus your future learning on them. Its “Score Predictor” function crunches the numbers from your past performances on the platform and offers a prediction regarding how you will do on the actual test. You can also compare your performance to that of competing students on the dashboard.
Although there is no live instruction or tutoring component of Magoosh’s GRE prep courses, test experts are available via email to help with any issues that you are struggling with while you study.
Both companies, in short, have technology-driven curriculum and prep tools that bear fruit come test day in the form of higher scores. Kaplan’s, though, are just a bit more user-friendly and comprehensive.
When you enroll in Kaplan’s LiveOnline or LiveOnline Plus, you’ll be learning with a team of GRE test prep experts who know the proven ways to help you increase your score. Kaplan’s GRE prep providers have secondary education degrees, firsthand knowledge of the test, and together have decades of accumulated GRE test prep instruction under their belts.
Magoosh’s GRE prep courses are self-guided, so there’s no live instruction element to the coursework. However, you can email experts while you study if any difficult questions pop up and they will get back to you with a comprehensive answer.
Score Guarantees and Refunds
When you enroll as a “premium” member (i.e. you sign up for both the verbal and math portions of the course), you qualify for the Magoosh score guarantee. You will improve your overall GRE score by 5 points; if you don’t, you get your money back.
As with most refunds in the test prep industry, there are some important conditions to qualify for Magoosh’s score guarantee:
- Your previous GRE score must be less than 5 years old.
- You provide a copy of your previous score by email.
- You have a Paypal account to receive the refund.
The fine print under Magoosh’s score guarantee is much shorter than competitors’ conditions, including Kaplan’s.
Kaplan offers a more generic “Higher Score Guarantee” (HSG) program that applies to many of its prep packages, including its GRE courses.
If you want to get a refund from Kaplan for one of its GRE courses, the way that it works is that you have 60 days from the end of your six-month membership to take the GRE, get your results, and present them to Kaplan.
To qualify for the HSG, you must:
- Apply within 60 days of the expiration of your membership to Kaplan.
- Present your test score to Kaplan and prove that either a.) you did not score higher the second time than on your initial attempt or b.) you did score higher but are not satisfied with the score increase.
If you take the GRE and do not score higher than before the Kaplan test prep, then you qualify for either a full refund or the opportunity to take the course again.
If you took the Kaplan course, scored higher than on your first GRE attempt, but felt the increase was unsatisfactory, unfortunately the only remedy that Kaplan offers is to take the course again. Visit Kaplan’s “refund requirements” page for a full “legalese” briefing on the various conditions for a refund.
Standout Features of Magoosh vs Kaplan GRE Prep Courses
To further crystalize the GRE prep choices in front of you, here is a smattering of Kaplan’s and Magoosh’s courses’ respective standout features.
Magoosh offers interested potential customers a 1-Week GRE Free Trial during which you can access over 20 lesson videos and 20 practice questions. You don’t need to give your credit card number or any other financial information to get started.
Kaplan regularly hosts free live online events like the GRE Workshop. These events are designed to introduce you to the GRE and Kaplan’s test prep, including the materials and study strategies that the company uses to help its students achieve higher scores on test day.
Also check out Kaplan’s free GRE practice test to get two weeks of trial access to a realistic practice test, instructional videos, and other features to familiarize yourself with the platform.
Magoosh offers its GRE prepper students 1,000+ practice questions. What it lacks in quantity compared to Kaplan it makes up in quality – its questions are expertly crafted, representative of what to expect on the real test, and come with extensive and detailed explanations.
Kaplan’s “Qbank” question bank contains more than 5,000 practice questions, more than enough to keep you busy without duplication. The company uses an adaptive drilling algorithm to optimize the questions that you see for maximum personal growth.
Both companies are highly responsive to requests for assistance from their students.
Magoosh stakes its reputation on the support that it lends to the GRE test preppers who enroll in its courses. The company offers 24/7 email support, so you can get clarification on any issues (technical or prep-related) day or night. Considering the usability of the platform, though, you likely won’t ever need such assistance.
The Kaplan contact page is full of methods to get in touch with staff: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, by phone and its live chat feature on its own platform.
Most people in 2021 don’t have thousands of dollars in their bank accounts, so if you think you might need to finance your prep course, rest assured that you are not alone.
Kaplan partners with a third-party financing group, Affirm, Inc., to offer incremental payment plans to students on a tight budget.
Magoosh does not have a payment plan program, but even its most expensive course ($179) is affordable for many as a one-time payment.
The Bottom Line on Choosing the Ideal GRE Prep Course
In summary, below you will find the most compelling cases for each GRE prep provider for Magoosh vs Kaplan GRE:
Use a Kaplan GRE prep course if you:
- Want the option for live instruction/tutoring to complement course materials and on-demand instruction.
- Essay feedback is important to you.
- Place a premium on volume and quantity of practice questions/tests.
- Want a chance to simulate the real test environment with the “Official Test Day Experience.”
Use a Magoosh GRE prep course if you:
- Are on a tight budget and are looking for the most affordable GRE prep option without sacrificing quality.
- Prefer an all-online, on-demand GRE prep format.
- Would like a quantitative, no-nonsense 5-point score improvement guarantee.
- Plan to study mostly on your phone or other mobile device (Magoosh’s app is highly rated and user-friendly).