If you’re looking to get a high score on the SAT, you must enroll in a prep course. Doing so will definitely boost your performance in the SAT, especially if you prefer to have a mentor or guide when studying for anything.
Which is a good SAT prep course, however?
Today, we look at 3 test prep courses and identify which among them is the best. We will compare Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Barron’s SAT prep, 3 of the more elite and reputable programs in the SAT prep scene today.
How do they differ? Which one is the most effective? We answer all those questions in this Kaplan vs Princeton vs Barron’s SAT review. Ready? Let’s begin.
Kaplan vs Princeton Review vs Barron SAT Review: The Basics
Kaplan, The Princeton Review, and Barron’s are test prep companies that help students prepare for standardized tests like the SAT. Throughout the years, high school students have been taking these courses to boost their scores and their chances to attend the college of their choice.
Both Kaplan and Barron’s have been around for quite a while. Both companies were founded in the late 1930s, while The Princeton Review emerged several decades later in 1981.
Kaplan and The Princeton Review are prep courses. Meaning, they conduct live classes and tutoring. Barron’s, meanwhile, specializes in prep books. All 3 will help you prepare for the SAT, but the effectiveness of each course depends on your goals, budget, and study preference.
Here’s a glimpse of what each prep course has to offer and how they compare to one another:
The Princeton Review
Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide
3 for 1400+ package
6 for 1500+ package
Hours of live instruction
Yes (Higher score guarantee)
Yes (1400+ and 1500+)
8 (4 official College Board exams)
4 proctored, 20 additional, 8 single section
4 on the book, 2 online
Personalized study plan
Packages Offered and features
- SAT Live Courses
- SAT On demand
- SAT Tutoring
The Princeton Review:
- 1400+ Score Guarantee
- 1500+ Score Guarantee
- Ultimate Course
Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide features:
- 4 full-length practice tests on the book
- 2 full-length online practice tests
- 1 full-length diagnostic test
- Vocabulary list
- Overview of the SAT
- Subject reviews on all sections of the SAT
Princeton Review vs Kaplan vs Barron’s SAT: A closer look
From this point, we will look at 4 qualities of an SAT prep course and find out which prep course is the best in each area. In this review, we will compare the prep courses according to the following criteria:
- Ease of use
- Student reviews
1. Kaplan vs Princeton Review vs Barron SAT Review: Effectiveness
Which course is the most effective? How does it suit a specific study style and knowledge level? Let’s break down the overall effectiveness of each SAT prep program.
What sets Kaplan apart from other prep courses is its quality. Kaplan’s instructors are among the best in the country and have wide experiences in the SAT prep arena. This prep course has been around for quite a while, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Kaplan has been effective for students because of its program structure and curriculum (1). The prep course follows a particular pattern on how to approach each section of the SAT. Moreover, you’ll be required to take a diagnostic test so test experts and instructors will identify your starting point and the areas where you need help the most.
What makes Kaplan so effective as a prep course is that it covers all sections of the SAT in each study session. You will discuss or practice questions on Reading, Writing and Language, and Math.
What’s good about this style of instruction is that you will not get overwhelmed by a particular section in one session. By the end of the prep course, you’ll have better knowledge and skills in all sections of the SAT.
Kaplan also values strategies in preparing students for the SAT. In this prep course, you will learn not only the concepts behind the topics covered in the exam, but you will also learn strategies and tips that will help you efficiently answer the test.
What makes Princeton Review a unique prep course is its high score guaranteed packages (2). If you aim for as much as 1500+, this prep course will definitely help you out. Otherwise, you’re guaranteed to get your money back.
Princeton Review assures you of quality, but the courses it offers are pretty expensive. However, if you want to get to the top 5% or even the top 1% (for the 1500+ guaranteed package), this prep course is ideal for you.
Princeton Review also values customization in the preparation process. With this prep course, you can schedule your classes and practice tests. Plus, the practice materials are of good quality. It uses official SAT practice tests from the College Board and provides quality SAT prep books.
Barron’s SAT prep books (3) is effective for advanced students and those who want a self-paced preparation. For first-time SAT takers or those who have low starting points, this book may not be for you.
This SAT premium study guide is extremely thorough. The Math section will show you how to arrive at a particular answer step-by-step. This book also provides 6 full-length practice tests (4 on paper, 2 online).
Barron’s SAT premium study guide is one of the best SAT books out there. However, we don’t recommend relying on this book alone for your SAT preparation. No matter how advanced you are, an SAT prep course will still give you a good boost to achieve your goals on the SAT.
Winner: The Princeton Review
Comparing the 3 programs, I would give The Princeton Review SAT Prep Course a slight advantage. With its high score guarantees, it shows students how committed it is to boosting their scores and helping them get to their dream schools.
Yes, it can get really expensive for some students. However, if you’re aiming to get to the top 1% of the SAT takers, it will be a good investment for you.
2. Kaplan vs Princeton Review vs Barron SAT Review: Pricing
Kaplan SAT Prep Course
Price (varies based on promos/discounts)
The Princeton Review SAT Prep Course
Price (varies based on promos/discounts)
Barron’s SAT Prep
Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide
The three programs have huge differences in terms of pricing. Barron’s SAT prep book only costs $20 but, as mentioned earlier, relying on a single book alone is not a great idea. However, it can be a great supplementary material for your prep course.
Kaplan’s pricing is much less than Princeton Review’s. This, however, comes with shorter access to the online platform. Still, more than a thousand dollars’ difference in live prep courses is a huge amount.
The Princeton Review, on the other hand, can get too expensive for some students. Yes, it offers a high score guarantee, but spending more than $1800 for an SAT prep course can be a bit too much for some.
If you’re willing to invest in a high score, then go for it. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly course, you can consider other options.
Winner: Kaplan SAT Prep
Among the three, the Kaplan SAT Prep Course has the best value for money. For an average price, you can get a prep course that is effective and of high quality. Kaplan is much cheaper than Princeton Review, but with its curriculum and the experience of its instructors, you are getting a very good prep course.
3. Kaplan vs Princeton Review vs Barron SAT Review: Ease of use
Let’s look at how easy it is to use each course. One characteristic of a prep course or program that makes it user-friendly is its accessibility and platform design. How accessible are these courses? Are their interfaces easy to use? Let’s break it down.
Kaplan is a user-friendly course. Its interface is developed for efficient studying. One feature that proves this is Kaplan’s Qbank, which is a storage of practice questions. What’s impressive about it is that the practice questions are grouped by category.
In Kaplan’s Qbank, questions are segregated based on which ones you answered correctly, incorrectly, and those you have not answered yet. Through this, you will be able to check your progress.
Another good thing about Kaplan is that you can take the classes online. Through their LiveOnline classes, you can avoid the hassle of going to a test prep center. Kaplan also has a mobile application, which will make it easier for you to access the prep materials on the go.
Princeton Review’s adaptive technology makes the prep course easy to use. What’s good about this prep course is that you can organize your study schedule.
Princeton Review also understands that each student has a personal goal on the SAT. As you accomplish practice tests and drills, your study plan automatically adjusts.
Like Kaplan, this prep course also provides classes online. As mentioned, this prep course developed one of the most adaptive technologies in the prep course scene. Its interface is user-friendly and makes the prep experience easier.
With regards to Barron’s SAT premium study guide, how user-friendly it is will depend on the student. The author did a great job breaking down the step-by-step process of arriving at an answer to the Math section. However, some students find it difficult to understand if they don’t have enough knowledge of the concepts.
Also, the book is a bit lacking in the verbal sections. If your understanding of the concepts in Reading and Writing are low, chances are you will find it difficult to prepare for the SAT using this book. The Math section, however, is really thorough.
If it’s your first time taking the SAT or your starting point is low, it will be difficult for you to work on the content of this book. If you’re advanced and have a great foundation on the concepts, this book will be a good supplementary material for you.
Barron’s also gives you access to a flashcard app. Through this, you can have a quick study session anytime and anywhere.
Winner: The Princeton Review
In terms of ease of use, I will give The Princeton Review SAT Prep Course a nod. This prep course has a 24/7 student support system, which means you can ask a question or advice from an instructor anytime. In Kaplan, this feature can only be accessed through packages with coaching.
4. Kaplan vs Princeton Review vs Barron SAT Review: Student reviews
The Kaplan and Princeton Review prep courses share the same amount of good reviews. The thing about these two prep courses is that their pricing options are very much different, so it’s really about the student’s personal preference and budget.
Barron’s SAT prep book, on the other hand, has a lot of good reviews from students. Most of them find the content effective and substantial, which is why the book has been around for years.
Winner: The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review takes the cake on this one. This prep course guarantees students a high score on the SAT, and they often succeed. Although a little expensive, this prep course has helped a good number of students get high scores (as much as 1500) on the SAT. That’s why most students who took this course say that their investment was worth it.
What makes each prep course unique?
What does each prep course have that the other two do not? Let’s look at the unique features and characteristics of each prep course and identify how they can be advantageous for you.
- Qbank feature: It’s a storage of practice questions on the reading, Math, and writing. What is fascinating about it is that it segregates questions that you answered correctly, answered incorrectly, and have not used yet. You can also bookmark practice questions, so you can easily go back to it.
- Great instructors: Kaplan’s instructors and coaches are among the best in the industry. They are approachable, committed, and experienced. Since Kaplan has been in the industry for long, its instructors know what students need to improve.
For Princeton Review
- High score guarantee: Other prep courses guarantee that you will improve your score. Princeton Review does not only guarantee a score improvement, it ensures that you will get a high score (1400+ and 1500+).
For Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide:
- Flashcard app: As you purchase Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide, you’ll get access to a flashcard platform online. Through this flashcard platform, you can practice and improve your vocabulary skills that are essential in taking the SAT.
Barron’s vs Kaplan vs Princeton Review SAT: Which is the Best SAT Prep Course?
Identifying the best prep course among the three will depend on your needs. Each course provides different styles of preparation and instruction.
- Take the Kaplan SAT Prep Course if:
- You have 6 months or less to prepare for the test
- You want to follow a particular flowchart or curriculum for your preparation
- You want a flexible schedule
- Take The Princeton Review SAT Prep Course if:
- You are aiming for 1400+ or 1500+ on the SAT
- You want a lot of practice questions
- You want longer access to the course
- Buy Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide if:
- You have a good foundation on the concepts of Reading, Writing, and Math
- You are looking for a supplementary material or book for your preparation
- You want to study at your own pace
Frequently Asked Questions