When it comes to competition between popular MCAT courses, it doesn’t get any bigger than Kaplan vs. The Princeton Review. Both of these companies have large brands and plenty of products designed to help students perform better on the MCAT.
But which one is better?
This comprehensive review pits them against each other, and goes into the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Since 1938, Kaplan has been a name that’s synonymous with test prep. It’s one of the largest test prep companies, operating in more than 30 countries around the globe! Accessing the courses is easy for most pre-med students, thanks in large part to its online platform.
Kaplan offers a handful of courses that cater to different needs and preparation styles, but we’re going to be focusing on Kaplan vs. The Princeton Review MCAT.
For those who prefer to take things at their own pace, Kaplan has a DIY MCAT course. It’ll set you back $1,799. Accessible online, the DIY course includes a flexible structure and six months of access to practice tests, videos, and hours of recorded lessons.
A fully online MCAT course is available as well. Costing $2,499, it’s more structured and includes support from a team of qualified instructors. You can communicate with instructors in a digital classroom setting or on-demand whenever you need some extra assistance.
For in-person preparation, Kaplan offers courses in cities across the world. These courses are structured and taught by a qualified teacher in a traditional classroom setting. For $2,699, you’re getting 12 three-hour classes as well as six months of online access to all of the additional practice resources.
Finally, there’s the Kaplan Bootcamp. It comes with a higher price tag of $6,999. However, it includes five to six weeks of rigorous training. During the Bootcamp, you will receive small-group training, one-on-one tutoring, five full-length proctored exams, and more.
Kaplan also offers several optional tutoring packages. Starting at $3,699, you can get 10 to 40 hours of private tutoring through Kaplan’s online platform.
There are several reasons why Kaplan MCAT is so popular among budding medical students.
For one, you’re getting a lot of extras to support you in your preparation endeavors. Beyond the core materials, every course includes six months of access to a slew of additional resources. This includes more than 90 hours of recorded lessons, 130 interactive science review videos, subject review books, and 16 full-length AAMC practice tests.
Those 16 practice tests are a big perk. They can familiarize yourself with the format of the official MCAT test and what kinds of questions you’ll encounter.
Kaplan also has a sizable Qbank with over 2,900 questions. The Qbank questions can help you determine your strengths and weaknesses, which will ultimately guide you in the right direction for your studies. Each question has detailed explanations of the material, which is a big plus.
The main overall benefit of the Kaplan MCAT courses is that they offer valuable information to help you develop your test-taking strategy. With over 10,000 practice questions, the courses show you what it’s going to be like on test day.
Even if they are confident in the material, many students are caught off guard by how hard the MCAT is. The Kaplan courses aim to familiarize you with the test and develop efficient strategies to help you do as well as possible.
While Kaplan might excel when it comes to developing strong test-taking strategies, that’s also one of its most glaring downsides.
Kaplan focuses heavily on preparing you for the test-taking side of things. This is evident in its thousands of practice questions and several simulated exams.
Unfortunately, this focus pulls from what actually matters: content review.
Kaplan doesn’t cover a lot of content review. Many of the course segments include high-yield lessons about specific topics. But, the courses don’t dive deep into the details about the core science and medical information.
You need that in-depth content review to succeed in the MCAT. If you want more content review, you have to fall back on the Qbank questions and subject review books. But even then, you may have to do some supplemental studying.
Princeton Review MCAT Overview
The Princeton Review hasn’t been around as long as Kaplan, but it’s developed a fine reputation all the same. Founded in 1981, the company operates throughout the United States and has international franchises in 14 countries.
Like Kaplan, The Princeton Review MCAT offers several course packages based on your needs. The Princeton Review regularly offers discounts, so pricing may be a bit less depending on available promotions.
On the lower end of the price scale, there’s the Self-Paced course. Regularly priced at $1,699, the Self-Paced course is accessible online. It’s a flexible option that includes full access to video instructions, guided study sessions, practice tests, and more.
Next up is the Ultimate course, which runs for $2,699. Available in-person or online, it includes 123 hours of guided instruction. Those hours are broken up into 41 manageable three-hour sessions.
If you prefer some one-on-one assistance, the MCAT 510+ course is a good option. For $3,399, you’re getting all of the same guided instruction as the Ultimate course. However, this preparation course also includes more than 12 topic-focused sessions to target areas of weakness. You’ll also work with an expert study manager who will help you make the most out of the course.
The most rigorous course is the 515+ Immersion course. This course will set you back $6,999. However, it comes with over 860 hours of instruction, practice, and support. 169 of those hours are live instruction from a qualified teacher.
In addition to access to an expert study manager, this course also comes with unlimited tutoring on-demand around the clock.
The Princeton Review MCAT also has optional add-ons and extra plans that you can purchase. For example, you can invest in private tutoring or do an intense Winter Break course that lasts for only four to six weeks.
The Princeton Review MCAT courses have several advantages.
Every course comes with additional perks that can supplement your studies. Like Kaplan, The Princeton Review provides access to 16 full-length AAMC practice tests. You also have access to 10 MCAT books, thousands of Qbank questions, and more.
The Princeton Review also has advanced software that can benefit your studies, too.
There’s the MedFlix library, which has over 500 instructional videos covering a wide range of topics. The Princeton Review MCAT also has diagnostic exams and Study Manager missions to identify and address any weaknesses as you progress through the course.
Ultimately, the biggest benefit of The Princeton Review MCAT courses is the content review. When compared to other MCAT prep courses, The Princeton Review is very in-depth.
Take one look at the standard 12-week course schedule. You’re spending far more than a few hours to cover the information you need. You will devote:
- 33 hours on biology and biochemistry
- 12 hours on organic chemistry
- 18 hours on general chemistry
- 18 hours on physics
- 21 hours on psychology and sociology
- 21 hours on CARS instruction
That’s a total of 123 hours on content review. On top of that, you have access to hundreds of hours of video content. There are also the thousands of freestanding practice questions, each of which includes detailed explanations.
The Princeton Review puts a big emphasis on content review and it shows. Much of your time is spent on the core material, which can make a huge difference come test time.
There are a couple of disadvantages to The Princeton Review worth taking note of.
The most obvious is the price. When compared to Kaplan and other prep course providers, The Princeton Review is a bit more expensive. Factor in the optional extras and you could spend a pretty penny.
Luckily, The Princeton Review does make up for this with regular promotions. Not only that, but there are more course options. This allows you to spend your money strategically and get the experience that works best for you.
Some students might not like the depth of the content review either. Despite the detailed content review with The Princeton Review MCAT courses, it may not be comprehensive enough for everyone (we prefer to go a lot further with our tutoring services).
As you can see from the schedule breakdown, some core topics are more in-depth than others. If you struggle with those topics, you can get extra help through tutoring sessions and practice questions. But, the main course might not be enough for you.
The Princeton Review MCAT struggles specifically with CARS. The CARS, or Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section, is often regarded as one of the most difficult. It’s not the easiest to prepare for.
The courses do spend time on CARS, but it’s not as thorough as we would like. There’s also very little supplementary material. The Princeton Review does offer a dedicated CARS accelerator course.
However, this is a standalone purchase for $499. It would be nice if The Princeton Review included some of the content into the main course to make up for its shortcomings.
The Winner = Princeton Review
When it comes to Kaplan vs. Princeton Review for the MCAT, both are decent options to help you prepare. But, we’re going to name The Princeton Review MCAT as the winner.
At the end of the day, the depth of the content review is the most important aspect you should be looking into. You can develop advanced best test-taking strategies and learn tips on how to perform better. However, it’s not going to do you any good if you don’t understand the material.
When you compare Kaplan and The Princeton Review MCAT courses side by side, there’s no question about which one covers more content. The Standard Kaplan course includes 36 hours of content review. With The Princeton Review MCAT, you’re getting 123 hours.
The Princeton Review also excels in terms of content delivery. Whether you take the course online or in-person, you’ll learn the material in a way that’s easy to absorb.
If you choose to complete your studies online, The Princeton Review’s platform offers a better experience than Kaplan’s. It’s intuitive, easy to navigate, and has thousands of supplementary content to take advantage of.
The Kaplan courses are nothing to turn your nose up at. But when you want a more in-depth content review and an enhanced learning experience, The Princeton Review MCAT courses are a better choice.
In our analysis of Kaplan vs. The Princeton Review MCAT courses, the latter came out on top.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.
In fact, our customized tutoring services have significantly outperformed these two over the years. By a long shot.
If you’re interested in talking to us about setting up a customized plan, click here and fill out the questionnaire!