The quality of your prep course could be the difference between success and failure in your MCAT. If you’ve been searching long enough, you may have come across two popular options: Kaplan and Princeton Review MCAT.
These two MCAT prep courses are popular for a reason. They offer quality lessons from an extensive curriculum. However, both have their drawbacks. You can’t see these problems by simply browsing their websites. You need to actually take these courses to find out.
That would be too expensive and time consuming. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered. If you’re trying to decide between Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT, read this post.
We’ve had team members take both courses and collect as much information about them as possible. Here, you’ll find out everything you need to know about their curriculum, tutors, pricing, and more.
Before we dive into the detailed review, here’s a summary overview. It will help you make a decision quickly.
Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT: Summary and Overview
|Kaplan||The Princeton Review|
|Course Options||Self-paced, Live online, In-person classes, Tutoring||Self-paced, Live online, In-person classes, Tutoring|
|Course Formats||Video and text||Video and text|
|All MCAT Subjects||Yes||Yes + Admissions|
|Practice MCAT Tests||3 to 17||16|
|Tutor Qualifications||PhD + High Score||PhD + Certification|
|Price Range||$1,999 to $10,999||$1,999 to $7,349|
|Package Duration||6 Months to 12 Months||1 Month to 12 Months|
|Full Refund Guarantee||Yes||Yes|
|Video and Interface||Excellent||Good|
|Tech Support Quality||Excellent||Average|
Kaplan is a test prep company founded over 80 years ago (1938) by Stanley Kaplan. Their service has grown widely popular for decades, allowing them to work with over 2.1 million people in 36 countries annually.
Kaplan offers prep courses and practice exams for 50+ standardized tests, including the following:
Being one of the pioneers of the test prep model, their system and tech has advanced further than most companies in the industry.
The Princeton Review Overview
The Princeton Review is a prep service founded in 1981 by John Katzman and Adam Robinson. The company offers test prep courses to millions of students every year.
According to the official website, 96% perform better after taking their courses. They also sell courses as hardcopy books.
The major tests covered by Princeton include the following:
They focus more on delivering quality content by hiring the best tutors in various fields.
Coursework and Tests
The MCAT is an exam with four sections:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
The questions in each section come from various subjects. Even those subjects have a vast array of topics.
Hence, when choosing an MCAT prep course, you need to be sure it covers all of the necessary subjects. You should also make sure the curriculum isn’t too broad. You don’t want to waste your time learning irrelevant information.
Also, if the program doesn’t include practice tests, then it’s probably a waste of time.
In this section, we’ll discuss how both courses perform in terms of their coursework.
Review of Kaplan Coursework and Tests
Kaplan’s MCAT program offers five key options for students. They are:
- On-Demand Course: It is pre-recorded and you can learn at your own pace.
- Live Online Course: It requires you to attend scheduled virtual classes. You get to choose the length of your entire prep duration.
- In-Person Course: It takes place in a physical location. You get to meet teachers in person while still having access to the online resources.
- Bootcamp: You can choose to attend the live bootcamp from home or at the designated location. This is the most rigorous option available.
- Private Tutoring: You’ll get one-on-one attention from a tutor via live online chat. It includes access to online resources.
The Kaplan MCAT courses come in the form of videos and texts. You’ll also get a hard-copy book set that reviews MCAT subjects. This adds some value to your order, especially if you like to read traditional textbooks.
You’ll also get regular assignments to complete.
All MCAT courses on Kaplan share a similar curriculum. You’ll get tutoring on topics in the following subjects:
- General and Organic Chemistry
- Critical Thinking
- General MCAT mindset and strategies
From our experience, Kaplan covers everything you might need to take on the MCAT. The only question is: how well do they deliver these lessons.
You’ll be happy to know that the lessons on Kaplan were excellent. According to our students who took the course, the lessons felt “well-paced, in-depth, and comprehensible.” They were also quite engaging for everyone involved, thanks to the instructors.
Kaplan offers practice tests as standalone packages and as part of the available courses.They offer 3 to 17 practice tests and 3,000+ customizable quizzes on Qbank.
In case you’re wondering, Qbank serves as an online resource for questions, answers, and their explanations.
These tests look and feel quite similar to real MCAT tests. Each question also has some answer explanations.However, we found these explanations to be too short.
After each practice session, you’ll get your mock score report. With it, you can figure out where you have problems.
Review of Princeton Review MCAT Coursework and Tests
Like Kaplan, The Princeton Review MCAT section offers five course options. Check the out:
- 513+ Course: It comes with several hours of pre-recorded video lessons.
- 515+ Immersion: It offers both pre-recorded and live lessons. You also get a designated study advisor.
- Live Online Course: You get more concise live sessions via online chat. It’s ideal if you don’t have a lot of free time left to study before the exam.
- Self-Paced: It consists of lots of on-demand course content with some live sessions.
- Private Tutoring: You’ll have a team of tutors to work with you.
The Princeton Review MCAT courses come in video and text formats. Besides the general on-demand resources the courses also come with MCAT textbooks. The company ships all course materials to your address after you confirm your order.
Below are is a broad scope of the topics covered in the Princeton courses:
- General and Organic Chemistry
- Critical Thinking
- Medical School Admissions
The above subjects are enough for any MCAT student. The admissions sessions are just the icing on the cake.
In terms of quality, we really have to commend the instructors at Princeton Review. They do a fantastic job at breaking down complex topics with real-life examples.
According to our students,”Princeton Review lessons were more engaging than those of Kaplan.” They were able to remember most of the key points weeks after each lesson.
Princeton Review is one of the few e-learning platforms that offer true AAMC-released practice tests.
You can get access to 16 complete tests when you subscribe to the service. They also have 2500+ of in-house questions that are just as good.
Princeton Review offers answer explanations that are more detailed than those of Kaplan. They are also easier to understand.
Tutors and Community
No matter how well-structured the curriculum, having incompetent tutors could ruin the entire learning experience.
If you’re going to be paying Kaplan or Princeton your money, you should expect the very best tutors and instructors.
There’s also the help you get from the community. Even in online learning, people want to connect with other students and share ideas.
Hence, we also need to consider the helpfulness of the Kaplan and Princeton Review MCAT community. We’ll be talking about how often and quickly they responded to enquiries made by the students we enrolled in the course.
Review of Kaplan Tutors and Community
Tutor Selection Criteria
The first bit of research we did on this aspect was how Kaplan selected its tutoring team. They were not too open about their hiring process.
However, after taking a deep dive into their system, we discovered mixed results.
Every Kaplan MCAT prep course has two main lead tutors. These were selected based on the following criteria:
- PhD in a medical field
- Many years of teaching experience
- Excellent MCAT scores in their time (At least 90th percentile)
The selection criteria for the off-camera tutors were understandably a little more lax. We found that they choose them based on their having excellent MCAt scores or extensive medical lab experience.
One-On-One Tutor Interaction
It’s important for teachers to engage with their students in any learning environment. If you’re the type of person who likes to ask unique questions, you need to have some one-on-one interaction time with your teachers.
Kaplan offers one-on-one tutor interaction on all of their prep courses. However, the level of interaction varies, depending on the type.
For instance, the On-Demand course only provides you with the opportunity during live workshop sessions. On the other hand, private tutoring allows you all of the on-on-one interaction you may need.
The teachers and instructors cannot be everywhere at once. You also don’t need to wait until they respond before you get answers to some of your questions, particularly in terms of general issues. That’s what the community is there for.
Learning with other students also helps to motivate you. There’s also the possibility of building great professional relationships for the future.
Kaplan doesn’t have an online forum for students. However, you can enjoy the learner’s community experience if you go with any of these courses:
- Live online (public chat room)
- In-Person (Classroom)
- Bootcamp (study group)
Review of Princeton Review MCAT Tutors and Community
Tutor Selection Criteria
Princeton combines certification and experience when hiring tutors for their course. They have two major selection criteria:
- Tutor must have a relevant degree, preferably a PhD in medical sciences.
- Tutor must earn an in-house certification
We can say that Princeton’s criteria for selecting tutors is just as good as that of Kaplan.
One-On-One Tutor Interaction
We had our team enrol in all of Princeton’s MCAT courses, and check the level of teacher-student engagement allowed in each one.
All of Princeton’s course options allow for easy on-on-one tutor interaction except the 513+.
You can ask questions during live sessions, especially if you’re on the private tutoring package.
Princeton Review doesn’t offer much in terms of student interactions. Most of the options available involve live video sessions. You’ll get more luck reaching out to your tutors and study advisor.
Packages and Pricing
Now for one of the most important parts of this review. We’ve created a comprehensive rundown of how the packages work on the Kaplan and Princeton platforms.
Here, you’ll learn the subscription model and their respective costs. We’ll also let you know if there are any free trials, discounts, or scholarships available on either site.
Review of Kaplan Packages and Pricing
For three out of their five course options, Kaplan uses a duration-based subscription model. The longer your plan, the more you pay. You can compare the three of them with the table below.
|6 Months||9 Months||12 Months|
The other two options use slightly different pricing models. Both are equally simple.
- Online: $6,999
- In-person (Atlanta or San Diego): $10,999
- Basic: $3,299
- Premium: $3,999
Free Trials and Discounts
Kaplan offers no direct discount or free trial for their prep course options. However, you can join the Free MCAT Prep and Practice program. It grants you access to starter pack resources for 30 days. They include the following:
- Video lessons
- Learning modules
- A complete practice test
The free package serves as a free trial, because it allows you to get a taste of what to expect if you choose Kaplan for your MCAT prep.
Kaplan offers a full money-back guarantee for students who don’t score higher than their baseline in the MCAT.
You need to have completed a minimum number of lessons to be eligible for this refund.
Below are the available payment methods for Kaplan’s MCAT courses:
- Master or Visa Card
Review of Princeton Review MCAT Packages and Pricing
The Princeton prep course options all have fixed prices. However, their durations vary. You can check them out below:
|515+ Immersion||2-4 Months||$7,349|
The tutoring option has a different system. You pay based on an hourly rate:
- Comprehensive Tutoring: 60 hours at $183/hr
- Targeted Tutoring: 10 hours at $329/hr
Free Trials and Discounts
Princeton has discount offers on all course options except Tutoring. This discount ranges from $300 to $1000, depending on the package.
The company also offers you access to all of their self-paced Biology classes for free. That’s as close to a free trial as you can get.
You can get a full refund if you withdraw from the course within seven days of your enrollment.
Also, if after completing the course, you don’t score higher than your baseline in the MCAT, you become eligible for a refund.
Below are the available payment options:
- Credit card (American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover)
Both prep courses are online services. That means you’ll be relying heavily on their technology to learn. Hence, we decided to compare the provisions in place to allow students to learn with ease.
This portion of our review was in three parts: the site interface, features that ease learning, and the quality of their support team.
Review of Kaplan Online Platform
Kaplan’s interface is one of the best we’ve seen in the MCAT e-learning space. The site is easy to use and you shouldn’t have a hard time finding what you need.
The quality of the video lessons were superb, with clear and crisp images. The sound quality was also superb. All of these combine to make for an excellent learning experience with Kaplan.
The Qbank serves as a repository of MCAT questions and answers. Qbanks come with fully-explained answers for each question. It’s available 24/7 on any device with internet access.
Also, you can also download questions on your device. This will allow you more flexibility when it comes to answering the questions.
- Kaplan MCAT mobile app
This app serves as a companion to your Kaplan MCAT account, which you access via desktop. You’ll get access to all of your course materials, lessons, and Qbank questions on your mobile phone.
When studying online, you’re bound to run into some technical issues eventually. Some of our students did, and they reached out to the support team. We asked them to report back with their experience.
From the reports, 80% had a positive experience, and only 20% had a negative experience. This shows that Kaplan MCAT has excellent technical support.
Review of Princeton Review MCAT Online Platform
While Princeton had a good interface with high-quality video, most of our students preferred Kaplan’s interface.
The pictures in Princeton’s video lessons were not as clear as their competitor’s. They also have to work on their sound quality.
- LiveOnline Platform
This is Princeton’s fully-developed platform for hosting live video lessons. It comes with several features that make learning easier. For instance, you can take notes during live sessions and then have these notes delivered to you at the end.
- MCAT Flashcard App
If you’re a fan of using flashcards to study, then you’ll love this Princeton mobile app. It comes with hundreds of MCAT content flashcards. You can also create your own cards using the app’s interface.
The app also allows you to track your progress as you prepare for the MCAT.
Just like they did with Kaplan, our students shared their experiences with the Princeton MCAT tech support team.
Only 40% of them recorded a positive experience. The remaining 60% all had negative experiences. It’s safe to say, Princeton has average tech support and needs to improve their customer service.
Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT: Pros and Cons
- Lots of great course options
- Fantastic questions repository in Qbanks
- Highly-qualified tutors and instructors
- Less expensive compared to Princeton MCAT
- More useful mobile app
- Excellent customer support
- Answer explanations are not as in depth as some would prefer
- Some course options duration extend for too long
- No notable discount or free trial
Princeton Review MCAT
- Offers med school admissions sessions
- Highly-qualified tutors and instructors
- Fully-immersive courses
- Courses are more engaging than those of Kaplan
- Better value on self-paced course
- Curriculum is more extensive than Kaplan’s
- Lots of discount offers and a free trial are available
- Average customer support
- Video quality is not as good as Kaplan’s
Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT: Final Verdict
Both Princeton Review MCAT & Kaplan offer top-quality course materials and lessons. You can’t go wrong if you choose to go with either. However, there’s a winner between the two prep courses.
Princeton Review MCAT is slightly better than Kaplan MCAT. The service has the extra edge thanks to their top-tier instructors, course content, and practice tests.
Don’t just take our word for it, however. Take a look at the verdict for each round in our review, and make a more informed decision.
Coursework and Tests:
Both companies offer similar course options and follow an identical curriculum. However, Princeton Review has more engaging courses and comprehensive test answers. Hence, Princeton Review wins this round.
Tutors and Community:
You can get one-on-one interaction with your tutors on either program. Kaplan, especially, fosters a conducive environment to connect with other students. This was almost a tie. However, we couldn’t overlook the fact that Princeton’s highly-qualified tutors. Princeton review wins.
Packages and Pricing:
Although Kaplan has cheaper courses, they do not offer enough discounts and trials to justify a win. Princeton Review has discounts on almost all course options, even though their courses are more expensive. Hence, it’s a tie.
Kaplan has proven to be one of the leading e-learning platforms over the past few years, and you can see that here. They have better video quality, software interface, and apps.They also offer a much better customer tech support experience than Princeton. Kaplan is the easy winner of this round.
Which Should You Choose?
In case you’re still on the fence after our verdict, here’s a guide to help you make a decision that best suits you:
Choose Kaplan MCAT if you…
- Premium video and audio quality is your priority
- You tend to rely on technical support
- Prefer to learn on mobile
Choose The Princeton Review MCAT if you…
- Need the best possible MCAT lessons and tests money can buy
- Want to start with a free trial
- Want better practice test answer explanations
Kaplan vs Princeton Review MCAT: FAQ
Is Princeton Review worth it for MCAT?
The short answer is: yes, the Princeton Review MCAT prep courses are worth it. We can say this with confidence because most of our students who took the course got high scores on their MCAT.
There were a few who had slightly above average scores. However, these were people who had scored poorly in the past. The Princeton Review lives up to its guarantee. All of them scored higher on their MCAT retake.
Is Kaplan good for MCAT content review?
The Kaplan MCAT review programs are good for both learning and practicing MCAT content. Our students thought the tests were good enough to use as MCAT content review.
So, if you already have the knowledge but would like to test yourself with some MCAT-standard questions, Kaplan is a good choice.
For $199, you can take the AAMC Preview readiness exam. It includes over 500 practice questions and three full exams. You’ll also get 12 on-demand videos for extra learning.
Is the Princeton Review harder than the MCAT?
We know that exam difficulty can be quite subjective. That is why we surveyed our students the questions after they had finished their Princeton Review course and taken the real MCAT.
When asked if the Princeton practice tests were harder than the actual MCAT exam, nearly all of them said it was. Safe to say, if you can do well on Princeton Review’s tests, you will ace the MCAT.
Is Princeton Review better than Kaplan?
Based on our final verdict of our review, the Princeton Review MCAT is better than Kaplan MCAT.
Both courses have their stand-out benefits. However, the lesson quality of Princeton is unmatched by Kaplan.