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Princeton vs Kaplan

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Dr. N, May 4, 2004.

  1. Dr. N

    Dr. N Senior Member
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    Please please help me out :eek:

    which course do YOU think is better? Kaplan has twice less classroom hours than Princeton --- same price....
     
  2. curlycity

    curlycity Guest

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    I didn't take Kaplan - took Princeton. Increased my MCAT 9 points from start of class to final results. So, I can't compare them, but I personally liked Princeton and found their books useful. The teachers varied in quality - funny stories available upon request.
     
  3. TRUE

    TRUE slacker extraordinaire
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    I took kaplan and while the class time wasn't great (I didn't expect it to be), their out of classroom resources are outstanding. Tons of test materials including all the AAMC tests, their own tests, etc... I think this was the most important part of my MCAT prep.
     
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  4. PublicEnemy

    PublicEnemy Senior Member
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    This has been talked about a lot and there are a number of threads all over the boards that you might want to check out.

    IMHO, it boils down to personal preference.

    PR - better in class teaching, better science textbooks/notes.

    Kaplan - all about the resources, tons of practice tests, practice sections, topical tests, etc. a lot of their materials are available online too if you're a registered member.

    Whichever way you go, a lot depends on the individual quality of your instructors which can be hit or miss. Also, how accessible the centers are to you.

    Both are helpful, but both require a lot of individual planning and outside study. PR will get you through most of the actual material better. Kaplan might be able to better prepare you for the test-taking experience and the different types of problems.

    Everyone has their own opinion. I hope this helps a little bit. Good luck.
     
  5. Benjo

    Benjo Senior Member
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    From a teacher's perspective, it's Kaplan, but I am obviously biased. Princeton Review is smaller, less experienced, and has much less review material, I believe. The courses are probably pretty comparable, but I can tell you that you learn all you need to know through Kaplan--it isn't about course time, but quality. Good luck with teh MCAT either way.
     
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  6. Dr. N

    Dr. N Senior Member
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    can you take some materials home or you have to use it only on site?


     
  7. Daddysoy

    Daddysoy Senior Member
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    Kaplan is all on-site resources.... There is a crapload of them tho....
     
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  8. ASDIC

    ASDIC The 9th Flotilla
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    TPR: a lot of teaching, more material oriented

    kaplan: less of teaching, more practice test oriented...they basically shove work up ur a$$
     
  9. Benjo

    Benjo Senior Member
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    Princeton REview seems to be a more knowledge-oriented approach, which is flat out ineffective, at least theoretically. ANyway, you cannot take the review materials home, but you have online access to pretty much everything, so center location should be a secondary concern.
     
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  10. PublicEnemy

    PublicEnemy Senior Member
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    You can't take any of their materials home from the site. You have to check them out and return them there. Thats something to consider too, cause come test time, the centers can get busy and a lot of stuff can be checked out all day.

    But they do also have a ton of stuff online too that you can access anytime from anywhere.
     
  11. PublicEnemy

    PublicEnemy Senior Member
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    Benjo is beating me to the punch every time. He's right though.
     
  12. Dr. N

    Dr. N Senior Member
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    thanks everybody,
    I think I have my mind set on Kaplan, especially after princeton cancelation.
    good karma for everybody!!


     
  13. curlycity

    curlycity Guest

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    Princeton Review gives you a stack of books to study at home. They're also available at Borders, so you could save yourself a lot of money and go through them on your own if you have the self-discipline. When I took the MCAT, you could buy 5 AAMC exams online for $80 or so. From what my friends who took Kaplan told me, we had the same number of full-length practice exams. The MCAT is partially "prior knowledge" and partially "how good are you at taking this test," so both reviewing the basics and practicing the exam are necessary.
     
  14. Dr. N

    Dr. N Senior Member
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    hey there are no karma option anymore????




     
  15. docmemi

    docmemi 1K Member
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    princeton=material...they literally teach you all of undergrad again...so it really is for review

    kaplan=more test taking oriented.

    i took princeton, it sucked. ide go with kaplan.
     
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  16. TheRussian

    TheRussian Life Size Mirror
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    I would say princeton is better. There is more class time which forces you to devote a lot more time to studying for the test. As for the resources, Princtorn does just fine. I got about 8 books including text and practice questions. As hard as I tried I didn't even finish all of the practice questions I had from their resources so I don't think resources should be the deciding factor.

    Several of my friends that took Kaplan complained that when they had to take practice test they had to go to huge centers where everyone from all the local Kaplan courses went. For them this often ment waking up at 6am. I don't think waking up that early is essential in preparing for the MCAT. For Princeton all the practice exams where at the same place as the class and we were able to wake up at a reasonalbe time. Also the Princeton practice tests are spread out pretty evenly through out the course so you always know what areas you are strong on and where you need to improve. With Kaplan you take the practice tests toward the end every other, or every week so you have a lot less time to improve your week areas.

    So in conclusion: Princeton Rocks :horns:

    Looks like you made your decision but hopefully it will help others that are trying to decide.
     
  17. docmemi

    docmemi 1K Member
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    well kaplan has a ton of practice questions and tests online.
     
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  18. docmemi

    docmemi 1K Member
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    just make sure whichever you do, you study the aamc practice tests 3r-7r.
     
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  19. rager1

    rager1 Anatomy-be-gone
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    I would recommend Princeton Review in a heartbeat. The materials they provide are second-to-none. It is questionable whether Kaplan materials and tests are actually reflective of the difficulty of the MCAT.

    Secondly, TPR tends to be well-organized and the materials they provide are NOT a review of undergrad as others would have you believe, they only show you what is relevant to the exam and focus just as much on test-taking techniques as they do on teaching you relevant material. The TPR teachers receive more training as well. There are also many many many practice tests for you to take (5 fully proctored MCATs including two AAMC tests) as well as mounds of practice passages and stand-alone questions that you can assemble into your own mock MCATs.

    TPR also provides you with a satisfaction guarantee which is loads better than the crap "improvement guarantee" that Kaplan provides. You go up even one point in Kaplan from the diag and you can't take the course again. Which means if you entered with a 16 and score a 20, you're screwed. At TPR, assuming you were good about attending the lectures, they will let you opt for taking the course again and getting new materials if you are dissatisfied with your score no matter what it is. As a result, TPR doesn't provide you a score guarantee but points out that the average score improvement is 10 points from first diag of the course to the real thing, and nationally the top 50% of students end up scoring a 30 or above on the real thing. The national average for the writing sample is an O but for TPR students, the average score is a Q.

    --Rager
     
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  20. Mr.Tweed

    Mr.Tweed Senior Member
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    This is not entirely true. Much of the material is available online to download and print (topical, subject, and full length tests). You can also view lessons online.
     
  21. yasmeensak

    yasmeensak The Y
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  22. wilco57

    wilco57 Junior Member
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    As a Kaplan teacher and former student I'm definitely biased but they helped me improve my score by 15 points so that's pretty sweet. What we teach in class are the most tested topics which breaks down to about 70-75 % of the test. Now if you could get all of that right, you're pretty much looking at an 11 on each section. Kaplan's review material is pretty detail oriented as well, although not as much as Princeton's. But I've never come across an MCAT question that Kaplan didn't have in their review materials so it's all there. It's definitely a matter of personal preference. For those who like to learn material on their own, Kaplan is better because there's way less classtime. For those who learn better in class, Princeton is better because there's more classtime. Kaplan is more strategy based, Princeton is more materials based. The problem is that there's no way you'll ever know it all unless you're an uber genius and would have scored a 40 no matter what. Therefore, I think it's better to get really good at the stuff that is most tested and once you do that start filling in the minute details. Also, Kaplan has flashcards which are awesome. If you know the flashcards forwards and backwards that's good enough for 11 and 12's all around. Good luck.
     
  23. Dr. N

    Dr. N Senior Member
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    Thanks to those who responded to my thread!!!!!

    one more question. Somebody recommended to research about teachers for this course. How or where would I find info about teachers?
    Thanks again.



     
  24. spaz

    spaz Senior Member
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    i'm sure princeton and kaplan each have their own advantages/disadvantages, but just wanted to make a few points.

    - my roommate took princeton, and their books have way way way too much information. also some information is incorrect.

    - i viewed taking the practice tests at 8 am, with a whole bunch of other people as a good thing... better simulation of the real thing. the first time i took the mcat (studied by myself), i don't think i was prepared stamina-wise or test anxiety-wise. plus you have to get used to using your brain on physical sciences after waking up at 6 am in the morning (or earlier) as you will be doing for the actual test day anyway.

    - someone else mentioned that both have 5 practice tests. kaplan has 5 scheduled full-length exams, but they have about 10 more that you can do plus the AAMC exams.
     
  25. yasmeensak

    yasmeensak The Y
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  26. Alexander99

    Alexander99 Ghetto Fabulous
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    I work for Kaplan now so you can take my opinion as biased but even before I signed on with Kaplan, I knew that the Princeton Review teachers aren't even required to take the test they're teaching. That alone would have convinced me to use Kaplan had I taken a prep course at all (which I never did.)
     
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  27. ImmunoANT

    ImmunoANT Senior Member
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    It dependes on where you want to take the prep course (Kaplan or Princeton, or Berkeley if you are in Cal) because it's going to be different people teaching... I took Preinceton in DC. Those instructors were awesome. I raised 10 pt. If you are thinking of taking Berkeley, make sure you have Todd Bennet on Gen/Org Chem. :thumbup: :laugh: :laugh:
     
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  28. jedirampage

    jedirampage Senior Member
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    Actually, the PR also has many, many full length practice tests available to students (at our site there are more than 15 full length test beyond the 5 scheduled). Plus many more practice problems. And you have online access to great additional materials as well. And all of the Saturday tests the TPR administers are during the same time as the actual MCAT. Also, mistakes do occur and new materials are printed every year with corrections and updates made to them. Like someone said before though, it's all personal preference in which style works best for you.
     
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  29. rager1

    rager1 Anatomy-be-gone
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    While it may not be required that they take an MCAT, virtually all TPR teachers have. When I took the MCAT class in Houston, all of the teachers had taken the MCAT and had scored above the 98th percentile in the section their subject belonged to. I have to admit that doing well on the MCAT does not automatically guarantee that you'll be a good teacher. I would argue that a good SAT, LSAT, or GRE verbal teacher, with the proper training, could be an excellent MCAT VR teacher. And all TPR teachers go through a fairly detailed training process that includes teaching for a guru TPR MCAT teacher. My positive experience with TPR is what inspired me to teach for them. I now teach Physics and Verbal.

    I completely agree that individual teachers do a lot to define the quality of the course. Do some research. I would ask people that have taken the courses in your areas to give you feedback on the local teachers for both TPR and Kaplan.

    Concerning practice MCATs: Even though Kaplan may have 10 additional MCATs for you to peruse, there's the issue of diminishing returns. I would argue that 5 practice MCATs are sufficient to get you in the mindset for taking the actual exam. In my talks with other Stanford students, all of the TPR kids were extremely satisfied and EVERY Kaplan student griped that the kaplan materials over-inflated their preparation and were easier than an actual MCAT. They also did not like the fact that they could not take their books home. I think that this detail alone makes TPR a better program.

    Making it easy for kids to score 35's on their diags might improve their confidence but it's also good business for Kaplan since they don't offer a satisfaction guarantee and want to foster good feelings for their program.

    Unless things have changed from last year, the word on my street is that Kaplan gives you an exaggerated sense of accomplishment in their prep course. If anything TPR, challenges you at the beginning of its course and then gives you the closest to the real thing with two AAMC exams. There is talk that 7R will be added to the TPR course once it's available in book format.

    At the end of the day, your improvement will be mostly based on how assertive you are at studying. I think TPR's materials are well-organized and more importantly, well written. It's physics, chemistry, and biology materials are particularly good stand-outs. I think Orgo and Verbal could be improved a bit, though the practice passages nad problems for all of the sections are very very good. The Physics and chemistry books went through a fairly major overhaul for 2003 and are quite excellent.

    Go to a TPR office and ask them to show you the materials you get in their MCAT class including the practice exams. Peruse and see what you think. Do the same for Kaplan. And to drive the point home ask around your school about people's impressions of each and be sure you ask competent people. The *******/lazy guy will tell you he hated his prep course no matter which one he took...and if he have loved it, I would question that program's rigor.

    Good Luck!
    --Rager
     
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  30. sfgboy

    sfgboy Village fool
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    Obviously, you can do well with either of the two big test preps. But just a couple clarifications on Kaplan. Practically everything that is available in the test center can now be downloaded/printed in PDF or viewed online. Lectures are also streamed online, and simulated practice test situations are pretty realistic. Kaplan even leases 3rd party test-center sites (hotels and college classrooms) so that its students can get used to going to a lesser-known location early in the morning to take the test.

    However, note that Kaplan teachers (like TPR teachers) are not required to have taken the actual MCAT. But this is rarely ever the case for either Kaplan or TPR. I think you can find excellent teachers at both places.

    And as for assertions that Kaplan gives false hopes to its students by having unrepresentative pracitce tests, I don't think this is true at all. When I took the MCAT, I used both sets of diags and found that both had their respective pros and cons. Kaplan definitely has tougher and more realistic verbal questions. I'm sure there's going to be objections to this comment, but that's just my observation.

    Ultimately, you get out of either course what you put in. Keeping yourself motivated and getting into a good routine are prolly just as important as good knowledge of the content being tested.
     
  31. surfej

    surfej Junior Member
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    I too taught for Kaplan, and saw that there is a significant difference in the classroom experience based on which instructor you get. As far as the satisfaction guarantee, Kaplan's Higher Scores Guarantee also applies to satisfaction with scores, even if you do improve. This is from their website:

    "Kaplan is committed to your success on the MCAT. We stand behind our programs and your results with the Kaplan Higher Score Guarantee.

    If you feel you're not ready to take the exam, you can take our full course again for free.


    No matter how many points you improve, if you're not satisfied with your overall score, you can take our full course again for free.


    And if for any reason you don't raise your overall score, you can study with us again for free or get your money back."
     
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  32. rager1

    rager1 Anatomy-be-gone
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    I obviously had outdated information if this is case. Sorry about that.

    I agree with the above poster who said that you get out what you put in. And my Kaplan vs. TPR comment about student satisfaction was specific to the Stanford area and the people I spoke to. Good luck!
     
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  33. willthatsall

    willthatsall Unretired
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    Hmmm, I'm taking Kaplan now and I thought that you could only take it again for free if you either don't improve or if you decide not to take the test and wait until next time. If you improve your score but aren't satisfied, I thought you had to pay a smaller fee to take the course again (~$400?).
     
  34. sfgboy

    sfgboy Village fool
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    Nope not true. You can take it again for free if you are unsatisfied in any way. You are eligible for a full refund if your score doesn't improve beyond a baseline (i.e. your first diag or a previous official MCAT score, your choice).

    But you have to qualify for the high score guarantee by having good attendance and taking the recommended practice tests.
     
  35. cabbagesnk

    cabbagesnk Junior Member
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    It depends what you care about in your MCAT.
    If you care about your score use Kaplan.
    If you care about everyting else use Princeton.
     
  36. ElyMD2008

    ElyMD2008 Junior Member
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    If you need really need help understanding and reviewing the material I would take PR. Kaplan pretty much expects you to learn it on your own and they go through common problems in class. The verbal review is better at kaplan though. But, that can be easiely reconciled by getting a verbal review book, ie exam crackers. Also, if you take PR you can always get the a lot of the Kaplan review questions on-line through their website, and they set them up in tests. They just added this new feature so even if you didn't take any review course you could help yourself with the Kaplan questions for a pretty reasonable price.
     

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