An Honest Review of Kaplan’s GRE Prep Course

Kaplan is one of the most well known test prep companies, offering preparation services for almost any entrance or licensing exam–even Driver’s Ed–across the globe. They have tutored millions of students since 1938, when Stanley Kaplan first started teaching in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn home.

Intro to Kaplan GRE

Kaplan offers a wide range of GRE prep options for students. Although Kaplan is more expensive than some of its competitors, students can purchase individual components of their programs opposed to enrolling in a complete GRE prep course. For example, if a student has already worked through test prep books, or with a tutor, and simply wants to be able to go through practice GRE questions, Kaplan sells access to their Qbank filled with custom quizzes.

They are a company of options. No matter where you are in your GRE prep journey, odds are Kaplan offers something to fit your needs, whether it be access to a practice test or a complete GRE course. Also, Kaplan outshines other companies when it comes to helping students build their math fundamentals.

Kaplan’s Program Resources

Kaplan offers a lot of of resources for students preparing for the GRE. They have a GRE Channel that streams live tutoring and a QBank that provides customized quizzes. For those wanting a diverse prep option, Kaplan is the company for you.

The GRE Channel will give you live instruction five days a week. This resource is meant for students of all levels, with topics ranging from math fundamentals (such as algebra and reading comprehension) to advanced GRE topics (such as strategies for Data Interpretation questions).

Furthermore, students have access to all the past videos in the archive and can browse through them by topic and difficulty level. If there is a particular concept you are struggling with, Kaplan allows you to watch the videos as many times as you would like. This is extremely beneficial for those who are not necessarily new to the GRE and would prefer to stay away from a “one-size fits-all” study plan.

Kaplan’s Qbank provides students with over 2,500 GRE practice questions with a very realistic interface. Students have the option to work through questions in a “timed mode” to help with pacing or a “tutor mode” in order to see explanations. You can customize your own quizzes by content, question type, and difficulty. In summary, Kaplan’s resources are meant to help students target their biggest weakness in order to optimize their studying.

Kaplan’s Full-Length Exams and Practice Questions

Kaplan has seven full-length practice GRE exams, written by Kaplan, not ETS, for students to utilize in their programs. The interface of the tests look almost identical to that of the GRE. However, the questions are not quite on par with what ETS produces. Some companies are known for writing GRE questions that are much harder than the actual GRE. Although Kaplan has some of these questions, their biggest criticism is that their questions are easier than those written by ETS.

In my opinion, one of the most beneficial characteristics of Kaplan’s program is their proctored exam called “The Official Test Day Experience.” This will give students the opportunity to take a full-length GRE–written by Kaplan–at a testing center and get their Analytical Writing (AW) section scored. Most companies that have practice exams provide the AW section, but do not actually score it. The entire experience will mimic what students will go through on their actual test day. The Official Test Day Experience is included in some of their program packages but can also be purchased separately.

Kaplan’s Test-Taking Strategies

Kaplan presents their strategies as “The Kaplan Method.” These test-taking tips are short, bullet point explanations of the method they would like students to use when solving particular types of questions.

Strategy Pros

If you already feel you have mastered GRE strategy, or you are a naturally good standardized test-taker, you will like the fact that Kaplan does not spend too much time on the overall strategy. Kaplan is primarily concerned with giving students an abundant amount of practice material to work through. If you’re focused on the learning approach over going through practice material, I recommend Manhattan Prep.

With that said, Kaplan has focused on creating material that will help students build their math fundamentals. Kaplan teaches algebra, geometry, and data analysis concepts in an easy-to-understand way for beginners. There explanations to math problems are also the most thorough on the market. For example, they will take the time to show students what a particular formula is before going straight to plugging numbers into it. Kaplan also does not skip steps in their math explanations, which is crucial for those building their basic math skills.

Strategy Cons

Although The Kaplan Method strategies are useful, they are not necessarily clever or revolutionary. For example, for a Text Completion question Kaplan will tell you to find context clues and predict the word that should go in the blank before looking at any answer choices. This is a standard strategy that most test prep companies will tell their students to utilize. Hence, if you know you need to build your basic math knowledge, Kaplan would be a good fit. However, for those who really struggle with reading comprehension, or the Verbal section in general, Kaplan might not be the best fit.

Kaplan’s GRE Courses

Kaplan offers several self-paced programs for potential students. Although students have the option to enroll in a complete GRE prep course, the ability to pick and choose certain resources can be a more economic way to increase their score (if they do not need help with the entire exam). For example, for students wanting to only prepare for the Quantitative Reasoning section, Kaplan offers the Rapid Review Live, Math Foundations, and an Advanced Math class.

Below are the descriptions for Kaplan’s Complete GRE courses.

GRE Self-Paced Complete Course

Includes…

  • 18 hours of recorded instruction
  • 35 hours of elective live instruction on The GRE Channel
  • Self-Paced GRE Math Foundations
  • Self-Paced GRE Advanced Math
  • The Official Test Day Experience
  • 7 full-length computer-based practice tests
  • 180+ hours of online instruction and practice
  • 5,000+ practice questions—including Qbank
  • 2 prep books for the GRE
  • Online access for 6 months

GRE Live Online Complete Course

Includes…

  • 21 hours of live online instruction
  • 35 hours of elective live instruction on The GRE Channel
  • 3 hours of one-on-one coaching
  • Self-Paced GRE Math Foundations
  • Self-Paced GRE Advanced Math
  • The Official Test Day Experience
  • 7 full-length computer-based practice tests
  • 180+ hours of online instruction and practice
  • 5,000+ practice questions—including Qbank
  • 2 prep books for the GRE

GRE Complete In-Person Course

Includes…

  • 21 hours of live instruction
  • 35 hours of elective live instruction on The GRE Channel
  • 3 hrs of one-on-one coaching
  • Self-Paced GRE Math Foundations
  • Self-Paced GRE Advanced Math
  • The Official Test Day Experience
  • 7 full-length computer-based practice tests
  • 180+ hours of online instruction and practice
  • 5,000+ practice questions—including Qbank
  • 2 prep books for the GRE

Kaplan GRE: Conclusion

In summary, I feel Kaplan is a wonderful program for two types of Graduate/MBA hopefuls:

  1. Unlike other companies, such as The Princeton Review, Kaplan does not focus so much on tech-savvy resources for their students. Again, what Kaplan offers is options. Students are not limited to financially committing to one of Kaplan’s complete courses. For the most part, students can pick their test prep based on what they need to improve on the most. This is good for those who are not completely new to the GRE and want to be able to practice more without the learning approach. If you need a lot of assistance with test strategy, just know Kaplan’s methods are very basic.
  2. If you are a student who truly needs to work on your math foundations, I would also highly recommend Kaplan. They outshine their competitors when it comes to teaching algebra, geometry, and data analysis in an easy-to-follow manner. Not only do they offer programs and books for math foundations, Kaplan has the GRE Channel where instructors live stream math tutoring.