In this Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT prep course head-to-head comparison, we will take a deep dive into the respective features of each company’s various MCAT test prep courses. Afterwards, you’ll have a clearer idea of which course suits you best to prepare for the exam.
- 90 hours of on-demand lessons
- 2,900+ question Qbank
- 16 practice tests
- More than 10,000 practice questions
- 10 prep books (3 exclusive)
- 500+MedFlix videos on demand
- 16 practice tests
- More than 1,000 practice questions
10% Off with Code TPN10
The MCAT is a big commitment for any med school hopeful – both in terms of time and money. So is the prep course that you choose to take. Here is everything you need to know about the top two options:
A Brief Overview: Princeton Review vs Kaplan MCAT Courses
First, let’s take a look at the features of each company’s courses individually, starting with Princeton Review:
The Princeton Review MCAT Course Overview
Princeton Review was established in 1981 and has helped millions of students prepare for standardized exams, including the MCAT. The company is widely regarded as a premier test prep service.
Princeton Review’s most basic option is its all-online Self-Paced Princeton Review MCAT package (priced at $1,699). Every Princeton Review MCAT prep course includes 500 proprietary “Medflix” prep videos on demand, 16 full-length practice tests, and 10 MCAT books (3 exclusive to students, 7 subject-specific). More expensive options offer more materials and score guarantees (510+ and 515+). The company also offers an online “bootcamp” option (a shorter and more intensive course) similar to Kaplan’s version of the MCAT “bootcamp.”
The Princeton Review MCAT prep course currently has a 4.6/5 rating from real-life users on Google My Business and a 4/5-star rating on TrustPilot.
- Individualized diagnostics to identify your weak spots (or, in inclusive test-prep speak, your “areas of opportunity”).
- Specific and actionable score guarantees.
- Subject-matter experts offer insights and clarifications on issues, creating a richer learning environment.
- Help with admissions to med school if you need it.
- Fewer practice questions than Kaplan.
- Customer service response is occasionally lacking.
The Kaplan MCAT Course Overview
2.1 million students utilize Kaplan’s MCAT test prep courses each year, making it the most used option for aspiring medical students. You are likely to be familiar with the name; having been in business for 80 years, many regard Kaplan as the industry leader in test prep.
Kaplan’s Online Prep Course (priced at $2,499) is the most popular version of the Kaplan MCAT program. For an additional $500, you can opt for an upgraded “plus” version of its online course that includes one-on-one tutoring and other bonuses. Other course options include its more basic DIY package ($1,799) and “bootcamp” course ($6,999) — both online and in-person — which is essentially a condensed, speedier version of its standard courses.
All of Kaplan’s MCAT courses come with 16 full-length practice tests, a 7-book Kaplan subject review, an exclusive MCAT channel with 90 hours of on-demand lessons with 24/7 access, and 2,900+ questions via its Qbank. The “plus” options come with more features.
- Days’ worth of on-demand videos.
- Fast and thorough responsiveness from support staff to technical and other issues.
- Customizable course options.
- Pedigreed instructors (PhDs and MSs, etc.).
- Shorter time window to complete (5 months compared to 12 or more with other companies)
- More expensive than other MCAT prep courses.
Princeton vs Kaplan MCAT Review: Head-to-Head Matchup
We’ve covered the basics of each MCAT course. Now, let’s take a close-up look at the characteristics and features of each to give you a better idea of how they stack up against each other with a quick Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT Price Chart:
Live Online /In-Person Basic
Live Online /In-Person Plus
Considering that these courses run into the thousands of dollars, there aren’t huge differences to be seen in the pricing schemes between the two companies. However, if you’re studying for the MCAT, chances are that you’re not financially gifted at the current moment. So, hundreds of dollars in savings can likely make a huge difference.
So, if it’s the basic, DIY prep option you want, Kaplan’s got Princeton Review beat by a hundred dollars. Also, Kaplan’s online courses are generally cheaper, even though there is not a perfect comparison feature-wise.
For Princeton Review, it seems they tax you heavily for score guarantees, either 510 or 515. So, if you want this type of specific guarantee, the extra cost might be justifiable when choosing between Kaplan or Princeton Review MCAT. If not, your wallet will be slightly heavier with Kaplan. In our opinion, the tacked-on price for a score guarantee is not necessary if you are fully committed to maximizing your score. “Do or do not: there is no try,” as Yoda says.
For those looking for even cheaper options, check our list of the top 8 MCAT prep courses. There are a couple that come in cheaper.
Practice Questions and Tests
This matchup is where Kaplan really outshines all of its competition, including Princeton Review. The company offers its MCAT test-takers more than 10,000 practice questions – far more than any other test prep service on the market. In addition, there are nearly 3,000 “Qbank” questions that can be calibrated for difficulty and by subject.
Princeton Review, on the other hand, only offers 1,000 practice questions. The major benefit of Princeton Review in this regard is its questions that are specifically targeted to improve your proficiency based on individual strengths and weaknesses. This is a highly valued benefit of Princeton Review; you can really use it to optimize study-time for maximum payoff on test day.
Both companies, however, offer 16 practice tests.
Class Materials & Instruction
The Princeton Review may slightly edge out Kaplan in the “books and other materials” category. Based on our experiences and the reviews from test-takers on Reddit and elsewhere, Princeton Review’s MCAT prep books — 3 of which are exclusively available only to students who take its courses — are well-organized, concise study aides that make a difference for preparing fully.
Kaplan also offers an impressive selection of textbooks to its students, including 7 subject-specific books and more than 90 hours of on-demand video on its MCAT channel with all of its packages.
For thoroughness and quality, Princeton Review’s study materials carry the day.
Learning Experience & Platform
In important ways, online education is the instruction method of the future.
Especially since COVID-19, social distancing became a normal part of everyday life, and online learning platforms have really taken shape. Both companies do a great job, through their interactive software and “digital whiteboards,” of recreating the student-to-teacher and student-to-student connections of a brick-and-mortar classroom. That said, we’d be remiss in this Princeton Review vs Kaplan MCAT battle not to discuss which company creates a better learning experience through their platform.
In this sphere, Kaplan’s MCAT channel shines – not just for the hours of on-demand video that we mentioned earlier, but for its frequent live-streaming of subject-matter experts that offer a rich contextualization of the curricula.
The superiority of Princeton Review’s personalized analytics, on the other hand, is a hugely helpful tool for focusing on the areas that you need to focus on. The results that it supplies are helpful and easy to understand. Also, Princeton Review offers students (at a higher price tier, of course) assistance in successfully applying to med school. If the process of med school admission is totally foreign to you, this feature might give Princeton Review the edge in your mind.
While the basic courses offered by Kaplan and Princeton are self-directed, they also offer pricier options (such as the “plus” options for Kaplan and “510+” options for Princeton Review) that include real-time assistance from expert instructors.
Kaplan’s instructors tend to come from the ranks of the doctorate classes more often. If you peruse the rosters of instructors who teach and facilitate their online learning environments, you’ll find that they’re heavy in the PhD and master’s titles.
Of course, not all professionals with advanced degrees make great teachers and not all great teachers need advanced degrees, but the experience and expertise that Kaplan’s instructors bring to the table can’t hurt for your MCAT preparedness.
With these factors in mind, Kaplan wins the “instructor” category in our Princeton Review vs Kaplan MCAT review.
Score Guarantees and Refunds
Kaplan offers a “Higher Score Guarantee (HSG)” to students who enroll in its prep course. Within 60 days of completing the course and taking the MCAT, you can provide your test results to Kaplan. If you can document that your test results did not improve following the course, you can either request a reactivation of your account to prepare again or request a full refund. If your score improved but you are still unsatisfied with it, you can select to reactivate your account. There is no option for a refund in this scenario.
A word of caution, though: Kaplan may hesitate to refund your money quickly. Some students have reported having difficulty getting their refunds processed by Kaplan due to technicalities or pushback from the staff.
Princeton Review offers a similar “MCAT performance guarantee.” To qualify for a refund from Princeton, you must finish all of your “missions” as a student that include attending all classes, completing all diagnostics, completing customized homework assignments, taking 8 full-length online classes, attending 32 topic focus sessions, and completing the 21-hour Psychology and Sociology Online Module.
Once you complete your “missions,” you will be eligible for a refund if your initial score was 500 or above and you can show that you scored below a 510 on your most recent test. Alternatively, you qualify for a refund if your initial score was below 500 and you can show that the score on your most recent MCAT did not improve by at least 10 points.
Princeton heavily emphasizes its score guarantees. In fact, they are often the company’s most attractive features to MCAT test-takers who want to feel confident that their hard-earned money is well-spent on an MCAT course that pays dividends.
If a warranty on the outcome of your MCAT exam is something you value, Princeton Review is your go-to option.
Standout Features of Kaplan and Princeton Review MCAT Prep Courses
In this section, we’ll flesh out some of the essential facets of Kaplan and Princeton Review’s respective courses that we thought were worth noting:
Kaplan offers a free online trial class lasting 3 hours. Prospective students can also take advantage of its free practice tests to get a feel for the platform and the instruction method that the company uses. Lastly, Kaplan regularly hosts free virtual events on a variety of med-school-related topics that are open to all.
Princeton Review offers prospective students a free trial of its biology course to get a feel for the platform and instruction method. You can also access its own free practice test and a free download of its proprietary MCAT Flashcards App.
Everybody loves a free app and subject-specific trial courses, but the sheer volume of free trials and resources from Kaplan gives it the edge. In this Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT category, Kaplan is the victor!
For many of us, practice questions are the “bread and butter” of any high-quality test prep course.
Kaplan provides 10,000 practice questions for its MCAT courses, roughly ten times the amount compared to Princeton Review’s 1,000 questions.
Princeton, on the other hand, offers handier insights based on your practice questions with accurate, personalized analytics.
By sheer volume of practice questions, though, Kaplan carries the day.
In addition to several physical offices in major US cities, both companies provide student support by email or by phone during normal business hours.
Kaplan offers several ways to stay in constant contact for any emerging issues on its contact page: via phone, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and its live chat feature on its own platform. The various ways to contact the company make getting in touch with a quick question super convenient.
Princeton Review supports students via its web contact form or by calling 1-800-273-8439. However, Princeton Review staff seems to, in general, respond more slowly than Kaplan’s staff.
The Bottom Line of Kaplan Vs Princeton Review MCAT:
Use Kaplan MCAT prep course if you:
- Value the high volume of practice questions (10,000+).
- Want access to more on-demand lessons (90 hours).
- Place a premium on brand reputation (Kaplan is widely considered the industry leader in test prep).
Use Princeton Review MCAT prep course if you:
- Prioritize in-person instruction (its in-person training is highly rated by reviewers).
- Want a specific score guarantee on the MCAT backed by a refund policy.
- Are interested in accessing the exclusive Princeton Review subject-specific books available only to its students.
- Want more time to take the course (12 months of access compared to 5 with Kaplan).
Armed with the detailed information presented in this Princeton review vs Kaplan MCAT comparison, you hopefully come away with a clear idea of which course to opt for. Of course, the free trials offered by each (linked in the previous section) can help you flesh out your selection if you’re still (understandably) on the fence.
The bottom line is that both Kaplan and Princeton Review are worth the investment; if you put in the work, they will undoubtedly pay dividends in the form of a superior test score and, ultimately, substantially increase your chance of admittance to a top-tier medical school of your dreams.