If you are one of the millions of students studying for the SAT in hopes of landing a spot in a school near the top of your list, then you’ll want to check out this Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT comparison.
With more applicants from abroad, the competition for entry into top-tier US institutions of higher learning seems to get fiercer by the year. A high-quality SAT prep course can provide the edge that you need to bump your score up and, in turn, increase your attractiveness to your #1 university choice.
- 16 hours of video on SAT Channel
- 4 hours 1-on-1 coaching
- Extended access to SAT On Demand
- 24/7 tutor on demand
- 1400 min score guarantee
- 36 hours of live online instruction
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Overview: Kaplan GRE Course vs. Princeton Review SAT Course
Let’s kick this Princeton Review vs Kaplan SAT matchup off with an overview of the companies, the various SAT courses offered by each, and their respective features, costs, etc.
Later on, we will delve into more a detailed Kaplan or Princeton Review SAT prep course comparative analysis.
*COVID-19 update: As of the end of 2020, both Kaplan and Princeton Review have suspended in-person learning. They are currently offering enrollment in online courses only.
Princeton Review SAT Course: The Essentials
Princeton Review has been a staple of the test prep industry for several decades. Along with Kaplan, it is one the most respected providers of SAT test prep.
As with many of Princeton Review’s test prep options, you have a cornucopia of options depending on your budget, time commitment, and preferences (such as score guarantees).
The courses currently offered by Princeton Review include the SAT & ACT Self-Paced course ($299), the “Essentials” course ($599), and the 1400+ Score Guaranteed course ($1,299).
Princeton Review’s most basic SAT prep course is the “bare-bones” package easiest on the wallet – yet it comes with the features you would expect of any high-quality SAT prep course.
All of Princeton Review’s SAT courses, starting with the Self-Paced course, come with full access to about 280 online video lessons, 380 online drills, 3,000 online practice questions, 20 full-length practice tests (15 on the SAT, 5 on the PSAT), and AP online video lessons.
With higher price tags come more features, such as 4 scheduled, proctored practice tests and additional materials.
You can guarantee a minimum score with the 1400+ Score Guaranteed course, which comes with convenient 24/7 access to real tutors online who can answer any questions that pop up during your test prep.
As always, be sure to read the fine print on score guarantees (we will explore Princeton Review’s refund policy in a later section).
You may also be interested in “add-on” tutoring services from Princeton Review that facilitate learning with SAT experts — you can secure a promise of a 1500 score minimum if you opt for Princeton Review’s SAT 1500+ Guarantee Tutoring services (an attractive but expensive “extra” that costs $250/hour).
The Princeton Review’s SAT prep courses generally garner credit from students who have taken them. On TrustPilot, for example, customers have given Princeton Review a 4/5-star rating out of nearly a thousand reviews. A majority of those reviews fall under the “excellent” category.
“Taking this class… has made me feel more prepared than I thought was possible, and I’ve already seen significant improvements in my practice test scores. I highly recommend this prep course.”-Ava Delariman
Princeton Review SAT Prep Course Pros:
- 24/7 on-demand tutoring available
- More practice tests
- More practice questions
- Complementary PSAT test prep materials
Princeton Review SAT Prep Course Cons:
- Higher starting price
- Lower rated/less responsive customer service
Kaplan SAT Prep Course: The Essentials
In the world of test prep, Kaplan is a household name. Over 2 million students around the world – from high-schoolers studying for the SAT to law school graduates studying for the bar exam – utilize Kaplan’s prep services each year.
Kaplan offers three prep course options: the On Demand course ($149), the LiveOnline course ($599), the Unlimited Prep course ($1,299) and the Unlimited Prep With Tutoring ($1,699).
Starting at the most basic and affordable On Demand level, Kaplan offers learners 4 SAT test books, 8 practice tests (4 of them being official, recently used College Board SATs), more than 50 instructional videos on demand and over 1,000 practice questions.
In the popular Live Online prep course, you can access 18 hours of live instruction and 16 hours of on-demand videos on the SAT Channel (which you can access until the end of your senior year). The Unlimited Prep course has a “with tutoring” option to add 4 hours of personalized 1-on-1 live online tutoring for an extra $400 ($1699 total).
As of the end of 2020, Kaplan has an impressive 4.6/5 star rating on TrustPilot, a score compiled from thousands of reviews from real-life users of the firm’s prep courses. 73% of reviewers rate Kaplan’s performance as “excellent:”
“Kaplan test prep gave me the confidence I need… Kaplan teaches you how to think critically… I would definitely recommend Kaplan test prep!”
Kaplan SAT Test Prep Pros:
- More affordable basic package
- Highly rated customer service
- Extended access to “SAT On Demand” channel until the end of high school
- Highly experienced subject-matter experts deliver course instruction
Kaplan SAT Test Prep Cons:
- Fewer practice questions
- Fewer practice tests
Princeton vs Kaplan SAT Review: Head-to-Head Matchup
Now that we’ve established an overall idea of the basic features of each company’s SAT prep courses, we will take a deeper look comparing Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT:
Most Affordable SAT Course
Most Expensive SAT Course
Cost is a primary concern for many students (and also parents) when it comes to selecting the ideal SAT course – after all, it’s no secret that the 2021 economy isn’t shaping up to be super great.
If you’re on a tight budget or you are interested in just the essentials (books, practice tests, practice questions, etc.), then Kaplan’s On Demand course ($149) is going to be your go-to choice – although, as you might expect, the lower pricing means less test prep resources to work with.
The course costs for the SAT programs offered by Princeton Review range from $299-$1,299. So, the most basic package from Princeton costs about double compared to its Kaplan counterpart – granted, it comes with access to more materials, but not enough to justify this higher price point. In Kaplan vs Princeton Review’s sAT price comparison, Kaplan is the victor!
Practice Questions & Tests
Princeton Review has roughly triple the available practice questions and practice tests – for this reason alone, you might consider its SAT prep courses over Kaplan. Compare Princeton Review’s 20 SAT practice tests to Kaplan’s 8 and Princeton Review’s 3200+ set of SAT practice questions to Kaplan’s 1000, and the sheer statistical difference becomes clear.
Of course, quality matters just as much as quantity. Kaplan has two major advantages over Princeton Review in this department: each practice question comes with a thorough text solution that clearly offers not just the correct answer, but also a detailed reasoning for the answer.
Also, 4 of Kaplan’s practice tests are real-world SATs that were recently administered, which can give you a much clearer vision of what you will encounter on test day than other practice tests (here are more free SAT practice tests).
Nonetheless, Princeton Review takes the cake for volume of questions and tests in the Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT practice material matchup.
Class Materials & Instruction
Kaplan’s 50+ reservoir of high-production value SAT instructional videos and 18+ hours of live instruction rate well among course alumni.
Kaplan also sends students 4 (non-refundable) physical SAT prep books to complement its online resources that come standard with all of its SAT courses.
In the most basic self-paced package, Princeton Review offers 280 online SAT video lessons, plus “AP Online Video Lessons” covering topics such as chemistry and world history, and access to “SAT Night Live” videos.
Princeton Review’s higher-priced 1400+ Score Guaranteed course comes with 36 hours of live online test prep with an expert instructor – and most impressively, a 24/7 tutor to answer your questions at any time, day or night – even on Christmas morning, should you require assistance.
Learning Experience & Platform
The aforementioned transition of all test prep instruction to the digital sphere due to COVID-19 has made each company’s platform and learning experience all the more relevant to your decision of Princeton Review vs Kaplan’s SAT courses.
Kaplan has made significant investments into increasing the “usability” and “user-friendliness” of its learning platform – and their work has paid dividends. As anyone who has used Kaplan can attest to, the site’s navigation is intuitive (i.e., you can get to where you want to go easily), whereas Princeton Review’s platform (although still top-tier) feels a little clumsier.
Where Princeton Review is found lacking in the functionality and aesthetics of its platform, the company’s AI-driven personalized practice drills (which, as Effie says, “made me become more aware of the simple mistakes I was making and drilled me into making smarter choices,”) constant access to human help (in the score-guaranteed packages), and greater volume of resources make up the difference – and then some.
The platform and experience nod goes to Princeton Review.
The subject-matter experts employed by both Kaplan and Princeton Review are distinguishing features of their courses – on which they have built their reputations as authoritative test prep industry leaders.
Learning with an engaging, thoughtful instructor that commands attention is all the more critical in distance learning environments.
A large proportion of Kaplan’s SAT instructors hail from the education profession who have transitioned from the classroom to the test prep industry, often with a decade or more of experience under their belts. Here are some Kaplan SAT instructors below:
Princeton Review’s subject-matter-expert tutors and instructors are likewise experienced and respected in their fields. Most, if not all, in fact, boast impressive academic and professional pedigrees.
Instruction quality is close, with Kaplan slightly edging out the competition.
Score Guarantees and Refunds
Both companies offer score guarantees backed by refunds – with critical caveats to consider before selecting a winner.
For its SAT courses, Princeton Review has centered score guarantees in its sales pitch, backing up its 1400 score guaranteed SAT prep course and its 1500 score guaranteed tutoring services with the option for a refund following the course. There are important caveats to consider, though, in the details.
Under the guidelines presented by the company, the effectiveness of the class (and hence whether you qualify for a refund) is measured by comparing an initial SAT or practice SAT score to your SAT score following the course:
Princeton Review SAT Score Guarantee
Score under 1200 on the initial SAT or practice SAT
At least a 200-pt increase on the SAT
Score 1200+ on the initial SAT or practice SAT
Score at least 1400 on the SAT
If you first scored under a 1200, Princeton Review guarantees a score increase of at least 200. Or, if you scored 1200 or higher the first time, they guarantee a 1400 score.
The refund offered by Princeton Review does not include shipping costs or any physical materials mailed. Those are yours to keep (and treasure?) forever.
Kaplan has a generic Higher Score Guarantee (HSG) that applies to most of its test prep packages, including the SAT courses.
The HSG from Kaplan works like this: you have a 60-day window from the conclusion of your course in which to take the SAT and compare your results with your initial score before taking the prep course.
If you scored lower than you hoped, one of two scenarios ensues:
- If you scored lower than your first SAT attempt, you qualify for a full refund (minus books and shipping).
- If you scored higher than your first SAT attempt, you can take the course over again (no option for refund).
In the final analysis, Princeton Review’s score guarantees are more straightforward and airtight than Kaplan’s, so Princeton Review is the victor in the Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT Score Guarantee Category.
Standout Features – Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT Prep
Here is an overview of essential features of each course that might sway your ultimate Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT prep course decision in either direction.
Kaplan does offer a hassle-free 7-day trial of its On Demand course to get your feet wet. This includes free quizzes and drills on word problems, math functions, sentence structure and other foundational skills that are tested on the SAT – it’s all super basic, but a decent sampling of what to expect from the full course.
Princeton Review hosts a 14-day free trial of its self-paced program, as well as allowing access to 8 full-length free SAT tests with no commitment whatsoever. The company also regularly streams free live sessions covering an array of SAT-related topics, including admissions advice.
Below is how to set up your free SAT trial with The Princeton Review:
As the folk wisdom goes, practice makes perfect. Practice questions are the meat and potatoes of any high-quality SAT prep course.
Princeton Review has 3,200 practice questions – far outstripping the 1,000 offered by Kaplan. Despite the deficit in the numbers, Kaplan’s practice questions are consistently rich in instructive quality, each coming with detailed rationales for arriving at the appropriate answer.
When you’re taking an online SAT prep course, responsive support from the institution (to answer any questions you might have about the content or about the course itself) can be enormously helpful.
In terms of access to help, Kaplan is the superior choice. The company offers several methods of contact across multiple platforms on its contact page including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and its own customer support feature on its site.
Princeton Review, on the other hand, can only be reached via a clunky web contact form or by phone at 1-800-273-8439.
For some, deciding between the Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT courses may boil down to what they can afford in their budget.
Through a third-party financing service Affirm, Kaplan offers payment plans for its Unlimited Prep ($1,299) course, spaced out in 3, 6, or 9-month increments. So, if you finance for 12 months, your monthly bill for the course would be $108.
Princeton Review may offer some form of payment plan on a case-by-case basis by calling 1-800-2Review. Otherwise, payment is due in full before the course start date.
The Bottom Line on Choosing the Ideal SAT Prep Course
Use Kaplan SAT prep course if you:
- Place a premium on responsive customer service
- Prioritize low cost
- Expect an “A game” from your instructors
- Want physical SAT prep books (they come standard)
Use Princeton Review SAT prep course if you:
- Want more practice question volume
- Expect 24/7 tutoring support
- Need a solid score guarantee
- Are interested in complementary PSAT materials
The SAT prep courses from both Kaplan and Princeton Review are excellent choices that millions of learners have effectively used to improve their test-taking proficiency.
In terms of score guarantees, the learning experience, and volume of learning materials, Princeton might be your ideal choice. If price and instructor quality are your primary concerns, you might want to consider Kaplan SAT prep courses.
Overall, in terms of top-tier instruction that delivers desirable outcomes in the form of higher SAT scores, Kaplan and Princeton Review SAT both share similar positions at the apex of the industry!
Did you find this Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT course review helpful? Which course did you decide on? Let us know by commenting below!