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Princeton Review vs. Kaplan

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by qwerty, Jul 11, 2000.

  1. qwerty

    qwerty New Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 25, 2000
    I was wondering if people who have taken either Princeton Review or Kaplan could tell me what they thought of either prep course. Also, if there are any instructors for either prep class, what is your approach when preparing students for the MCATs? I am just trying to decide which prep to take. So far I have been told that Princeton is the best, but am not sure of how true this is.

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  3. WingZero

    WingZero Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I can't say anything about Princeton, but as a student and two-time teacher of the Kaplan course, I can tell you that it is worth the money (I went up 11 points between my diagnostic and the real thing - whether or not I could have done this without Kaplan is another question [​IMG]). Although as a teacher I am reluctant to admit this, the lectures/classes themselves aren't what help you the most for the MCAT. At best, they offer a few test-taking tips and are a decent refresher course. In fact, you're definitely NOT paying for the teaching. I get paid $20 an hour, so $60 per class. In a class of 30 students, that's only $2 per student. 12 classes - $24 per student out of the total $1100 you pay for the class. Aside from the books, what you do pay for are the excellent practice tests Kaplan provides through their training library (and now even online, although I don't recommend them because the "feel" of doing a test on a computer is much different than with pen and paper, which will be the format of the MCAT anyway). Each test question has an extensive explanation at the end (sometimes a page long) which helps you to brush up on any minutae you may have forgotten, but more importantly, the deconstruction of the questions allows for you to approach the MCAT in a more efficient and effective manner. When you spend 20 minutes taking the topical tests, you can often spend twice that time going over the answers. Kaplan's test are specifically designed to be more difficult than actual MCAT's - you'll see when you take Kaplan vs. AAMC practice tests, so that you won't be shell-shocked when the real test comes along. I even tell my students in the spring session (when school classes are still in session) that if they are ever cramped for time and have to choose between coming to the Kaplan class and spending time in taking practice tests, to skip my class. I think the best preparation for the MCAT is to take as many tests as you can, and whether Kaplan or Princeton does a better job is something I cannot answer objectively [​IMG]
  4. rangers1

    rangers1 Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2000
    Brighton, MA
    I agree completely with the previous post. The true benefit of either class is the materials and practice tests, not the classes. If you think going to the class with raise your score 8 points, you are gravely mistaken'.

    I have taken both Kaplan's and Princeton Review's MCAT courses. It will sum my impression of the two up as follows...

    Kaplan was very, very information intensive. It was a hard core review of all the basic undergrad science classes. If you have been away from the classroom for a few years or feel you did not an adequate education in college, Kaplan will whip you into shape real quick!

    PR was less information intensive and had a more "we'll teach you the tricks of the test" approach. If you are in school now or have the material very fresh in your head, these tricks might be the info that puts you over the top.

    I know it is very expensive, and somewhat unrealistic, but taking both is the perfect tandem. It made all the differnce for me. Nonetheless, I feel that the critial piece that will up your test scores is taking as many practice tests, preferrably full-length, as you can. By the time I took the test that resulted in my best scores, I had taken 10 to 12 practice tests. The day of the test was yust another day. I was amazed how calm and confident I felt.

    Good Luck, I hope this helps!
  5. qwerty

    qwerty New Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 25, 2000
    Thank you both for your help. rangers1, I was wondering, out of the exams at PR and Kaplan, which did you feel were more helpful? I am curious as to the quality and quantity of the exam questions available. WingZero mentioned that the exams available by Kaplan were more difficult than the actual MCATs, which I tend to believe. However, a slew of my friends tell me that the exams available by Kaplan are outdated and ultimately an exercise in futility (mainly people enrolled in PR). Any Ideas?

    Thanks again.
  6. deziballer

    deziballer Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 14, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I agree with the earlier posts that the time you spend studying is more important than time spent in class. Just thought I'd put my 2 cents in about princeton review. I took it over kaplan because we were allowed to keep all our practice materials unlike in kaplan. Also, i found the science review that princeton review provided (I'd reccomend studying this book rather than the course manual if you take PR) really made the concepts clear in easy language. However, since I havent actually taken kaplan, i guess im a bit biased.
  7. mvalento

    mvalento Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    chicago, IL
    i took kaplan and i definitely recommend it now. i went up 14 points from my diagnostic test, and i didn't put in psycho hours of studying (although it does take a lot of wrok, obviosuly). the previous posts have pointed out the shortcomings of the class, which are true:

    the classes aren't very beneficial, esp. if you have a poor teacher (we had seniors teaching us).

    the practice tests are harder than the real one, at least in my experience. much harder. i would hesitate to call them an 'exercise in futility', though. i believe they are more for stamina training and to work on your timing than to try to get all the answers right.

    the practice tests and other practice items are what make the class worth the $1000 it usually costs.

    i have no experience with PR, so i can't comment on it. good luck!
  8. Sdonnenwerth

    Sdonnenwerth Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Shawnee, KS, USA
    Sorry guys, but I wouldn't recommend any class. You're what, 20 years old? Don't you have something better to spend a thousand bucks on? Go to the bookstore, buy yourself a review book (a small one) that has two or three practice tests in it. You'll get another practice test when you register for the test. That's plenty. Spend spring break your junior year studying and taking the tests, then go take the MCAT. You'll do just fine. Before spring break, don't bother thinking about it. Relax!!! Life is good.

    Steve Donnenwerth
    University of Kansas Medical Center
  9. limit

    limit Molesting my inner-child 10+ Year Member

    Jun 21, 2000
    New York City
    I heard of someone taking the same course (Kaplan I think it was) over and over again like 4 times. It was under some discount plan that if you take it once, you can keep taking it either for very cheap or even free. She took these courses over and over during a period of 1 year I think, and eventually landed an upper 30's MCAT. Wacky eh ? That's like over a dozen practice tests, and a helluva lot of lecture material... guess it really burned into those brain cells.
  10. KeithKow

    KeithKow Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2000
    in my opinoin, kaplan is worth it (haven't taken princeton review, so can't tell you about that) for the same reasons listed above: tons of practice material, including the oh-so-valuable-but-such-a-pain-in-the-ass full length tests. i started hard work at spring break.
    went up 12 points from the diagnostic (21 to 33). but keep in mind the diagnostic is without no practice whatsoever, i had no clue what i was taking when i took it and had two months of physics. the 33 came with a year of physics and a crapload of work.
    good luck!
  11. WingZero

    WingZero Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I think when people (I'm guilty of this as well) advertise their "jumps" in MCAT scores, it is quite misleading as the previous poster mentioned. As a teacher for Kaplan, I believe that the course's true measure of value is the "jump" one experiences between the "midterm" full-length MCAT and the actual thing. By the middle of the course, students have already been refreshed on most of the material and have gone through the motions of taking parts of the test. From that point until the real test, the value of Kaplan comes from review sessions, loads of practice tests, and the "hell week(s)" where you are hit with 4 consecutive full-MCAT's (not to mention testing one's 3 D's - drive, desire, and discipline). The question is, can you do this all on your own, making prep courses unnecessary? It all depends on the student. I disagree that all you need is a thick review book. Most books I've seen are either grossly over- or under- packed with the right information. There are these huge books that are basically physics, chem, and bio texts combined into one, probably containing only about 40% information relevant to what will be tested on the MCAT. If nothing else, Kaplan boils down the material to topics that are covered by the MCAT. If you don't want to sign up for the entire course, you can still buy the Kaplan books (although a bit expensive).

    Bottom line is this - I don't think that many people are so strapped for cash that $1000 is too high a price to pay for something that can potential have an enormous impact on your career in medicine. If you do a review course and do score much better, that will probably have been the best $1000 you've ever spent...

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