Kaplan v. Princeton Review

It’s an eternal question: which is superior. Kaplan or Princeton Review? (And online or in person?)
I have only two months or so to decide which to take in the fall and I’m baffled. At City College, we have a deal that Kaplan is half price for us. Regrettably, I have expensive tastes and think that Princeton Review seems to have a more rigorous program.
Please if any of you have an opinion could you write a few sentences on which you liked and WHY?
Thanks so much,

Before I tell you my pick, I will say that I’m biased - because I am now a teacher for Princeton, so they are paying me. But they don’t give me money for anything outside the classroom, so this is not a paid advertisement!
I’m a big fan of Princeton. They do go much more into details of the material (they have almost twice as much time in class). There is a whole history of why they changed, but apparently they used to be like Kaplan, but changed about 4-5 years ago to the current system. You will get a full (albeit very quick) re-teach of all the important points for all the sections. This helped me out both with the MCAT and classes - since I was taking them concurrently. Sometimes what I learned in MCAT was easier to understand than my university professor.
Also, the way the tests are administered is, I think, better at Princeton. They give 3 ‘hard’ Princeton tests, then for the last two they administer the actual AAMC 5R and 6R. So your tuition includes those tests. This is good because you get a huge boost of confidence right before the test (people normally do much better on AAMC tests). I believe you have access to these tests with Kaplan, but its not part of the proctored diagnostic thing.
I don’t want to knock Kaplan other than the test thing, I really don’t know THAT much about them. I just really liked Princeton.
Bottom line, I’ve heard people who have done well with either of the prep courses. I really think most of it is up to you and the work you put in. I would find it hard to turn down the 50% off thing myself, but if it were even I personally would go Princeton every time. And, I liked it so much that I sought out employment there after I finished the course.
If you have any other questions, let me know.

Having taken the Kaplan course, I think I’d recommend Princeton review. Kaplan spends too much time on test taking techniques and not enough time reviewing the actual material…

I have never experienced the Princeton review, so I can only speak to the Kaplan portion. I loved it and thought it was worth every penny I paid. But I also put a lot into it. I think they review what you need to know without going into things you don’t need to know, and I liked the amount of time they spent on test taking. In spite of the fact that I am naturally good at test taking, I think that part upped my score as much as the review part did. There are plenty of people who know the material cold but do poorly on the MCAT because that way of thinking eludes them. The Kaplan course taught that way of thinking. I have seen plenty of posts that one or the other is better, so it may just be personal taste and how much you are willing to put into it. I will say that I took the MCAT 7 years after graduation and 8-10 years after taking any of the courses covered by the MCAT (no post-bacc courses at all) and did really well with only the material reviewed by Kaplan. So there’s a little plug for Kaplan. . . .

I liked Princeton (a long time ago–in person, not online) because I liked that the teachers were all specialists in their area rather than being one generalist who tries to cover everything. I think they focus more on content and for me that was useful. I also liked the way they structured the studying, the classes, and the tests. Since I didn’t take Kaplan I can’t really compare.

good luck!


I took Kaplan last fall and spring. The reason I went with Kaplan originally was because I heard that their tests are harder than TPR ones, and I thought that would be good preparation for me. I don’t know if they really are harder, but there seem to be a lot of posts where people complain about how hard Kaplan PS sections are! In the end I got annoyed with how ridiculously difficult those physics passages were. You are supposed to finish every passage in 9 minutes, and some of them are insane. However, I did 11 of these tests, and I think it helped me.
Personally, I thought Kaplan spent plenty of time reviewing the science. They have TONS of review materials that you can go over on your own. You can download everything and print it out too, which is great. I did not feel like the actual time spent in class was very beneficial though. Our teachers were med students who’d done well on previous MCATs, but they weren’t science profs, and it showed. Also, these classes have one goal and that is the MCAT. If you ask why something happens in science, your question gets ignored, even if the answer could actually help you reason through a passage better. But I might have had these complaints about any class, not just Kaplan.
Kaplan gives these things called Test Drives, and I think they’re free. You could take one to get a feel for the class, and then decide. If it were me, I’d take advantage of that discount. Even though I just said some negative things about Kaplan, I do feel like I benefitted from their class, just as much as I would have with any other class. I’m glad I took it.

The verdict: I decided to try out Kaplan’s online option. I’m a big self-starter type person so I think that I will get as much out of it as going to the physical classroom. I’m trying to be really excited about MCAT preparation, instead of looking at it as a big chore. Since I think I will be the first in our little group to experience the online Kaplan MCAT course, I’ll let you all know what it’s like.

Let the group know how the online option went. I always wondered if it was good, and you’re right, you really have to be a self-starter to do it. Good luck,

Maybe you will find otherwise, but I did the online Kaplan course and did not find it so very useful - but it was my only option other than self-study since I was not near any course centers. Maybe it has changed since I did it but I found the format not very efficient and the materials available to you at the study center are not available to the online class. Plus it is difficult to print out the materials if you want to carry something with you to review. It is okay as a supplement but I needed other materials also. (I just bought the Princeton Review book and also had the EK books and questions). That said, my main problem has been trying to find time to review/relearn materials when I work so many hours.