Princeton Review GMAT Prep: How does it Compare? - Financial Analyst Insider
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Princeton Review GMAT Prep: How does it Compare?

When thinking of test prep, The Princeton Review is one of the first companies that might come to mind. Famous for both its tutoring and its college-search guidebooks, The Princeton Review offers a full suite of autonomous, classroom-based, and private GMAT prep programs.

In this article, I will provide an overview of each of The Princeton Review’s offerings, and share my thoughts after spending some time using Princeton Review’s self-paced GMAT course.

Princeton Review GMAT Course Options

Students have a choice of three primary course options: Self Paced, Ultimate, and Private Tutoring.

As mentioned before, The Princeton Review offers something for everyone, and your choice will likely depend upon your budget and your personal learning needs.

Self Paced GMAT Course

Access to the complete course, which covers all 3 sections of the GMAT, costs $499 and comes with 200 lessons and 10 practice tests.

Students can also purchase a single part of the Self-Paced course. The Quantitative and Verbal sections cost $249 individually, and the Integrated Reasoning lessons are $149, but none of them comes with the 1 on 1 tutoring session.

Most students choose the comprehensive Self Paced course because it includes all sections of the exam.  But I do like that students have the option to select a single course at a lower price point which is helpful if you already have course material and just want to really focus on a particular section with extra practice questions and content.

Notable Course Features

The Comprehensive Self Paced GMAT includes the following:

  • Single course starts at $149 or $249 and all courses for $499.
  • 1 on 1 personalized tutoring session (1 hour session).
  • Access to a dedicated mobile phone app.
  • Over 100 adaptive video based lessons.
  • 91 quick review lessons.
  • 83 adaptive based practice drills.
  • 10.5 hours of live Q&A sessions.
  • Princeton Review GMAC Official Guide

Adaptive Algorithm

In order to personalize the course, The Princeton Review uses an adaptive algorithm (personified by their mascot, Algo) that orders your lessons and selects questions in order to maximize the impact of your practice.

You can also choose a specific topic and the algorithm will give you GMAT practice questions in the same format as the real test.  This means that if you get the answer correct, you’ll receive a harder question.  The more you practice, the more closely the algorithm will hone in your areas for improvement.

Video Based Content

The Princeton Review also incorporates some teacher-led instruction, providing students with an hour-long coaching appointment and access to 10.5 hours of live, online Q&A sessions.  If your interested in a live session, just check the student portal for a topic list and sign up for an online session.

Ultimate GMAT Course

For students that prefer working in a classroom setting, The Princeton Review’s GMAT Ultimate course is reasonably priced at $1099 online and $1199 in-person, with classes in most major metropolitan areas.

These courses entail 27 hours of live instruction, held in three-hour sessions either once or twice a week. Lessons are recorded for later viewing.

The GMAT Ultimate course also comes with access to all GMAT study materials provided as part of the Self Paced GMAT course. Students can get feedback on practice essay responses, or practice to more challenging math questions with the Hard Math workshops.

Notable Features

  • Includes all study material from Self Paced GMAT course.
  • 27 hours of live GMAT instruction.
  • Full library of previously recorded GMAT lessons.
  • Access to Hard Math specialized workshops.

GMAT Private Tutoring Course

Finally, students who require personal attention will be well-suited to GMAT private tutoring. Princeton Review experts will work with you one-on-one, either in-person or online, for 10 hours at a cost of $1500 or 18 hours at $2700.

  • Includes all Self Paced GMAT study materials.
  • 1 on 1 tutoring for 10 hours or 18 hours.
  • The GMAT score guarantee is only available with the 18 hour package.

Princeton Review Unique Features

As previously mentioned, The Princeton Review flexes its technological muscles by integrating adaptive algorithms into its online practice portal. The DrillBuilder feature will run students through a battery of questions on topics that the portal has identified as being optimal areas for growth.

If you would prefer to stick with one topic, The Princeton Review’s question bank is also adaptive, challenging you with harder or simpler questions based on your performance.

Benefits of an Adaptive Course Program

Students in the Self-Paced GMAT course will note that this adaptive emphasis even extends to course material. Where some companies waste your time on content that you already know, The Princeton Review adapts its material so that you’re more likely to be challenged—in a good way!—by your coursework.

Simple Score Guarantee

The Princeton Review also deserves recognition for the simplicity of its score-increase guarantee. Many companies play fast-and-loose with their guarantees, requiring students to do a herculean amount of work, file their claims in an impossibly tight timeframe, or even take the official GMAT before starting!

By contrast, The Princeton Review merely asks that you take all required practice tests and show up to each of your lessons. If your score does not improve, you can get your money back, and if you are unsatisfied for any other legitimate reason, you may be able to repeat the program.

Which Course Should I Choose?

Any good answer to that question must be honest about its subjectivity, because every student has his or her own needs.

To me, the GMAT Ultimate course stands out most for its competitive price, only $1200 in-person, and for the good reputation of The Princeton Review’s instruction. Tutoring may also be a good option, especially for students with money to spare, or whose needs are highly individual.

Meanwhile, the Self-Paced GMAT course is the most reasonably priced and offers everything you need to get prepared. More on that in a second!

Using Princeton Review’s GMAT Platform

After looking at The Princeton Review’s offerings, I spent some time using the company’s free trial. The trial consists of a handful of adaptive lessons and question drills from the Self-Paced GMAT curriculum, so my assessment is most relevant to that program.

Quality of Instruction

The first thing to know about The Princeton Review’s self-paced course is that it emulates the test as much as possible. Lessons consist of a series of GMAT-style questions that require a similar strategy or touch on the same content area. Of course, if you’re stuck, you can ask for a hint on each question or review the narrated slide show for that lesson—but these steps were optional.

The questions themselves were well-written and fit with The Princeton Review’s adaptive format. Each lesson begins with a question of moderate difficulty, and then gets harder or easier depending on how you do. This is also the case with question drills, which follow each lesson. At the end of the drills, you can see how many questions you got correct by difficulty level, and trace on a graph how the levels changed throughout the drill.

Course Structure

Of course, with all these questions, where does the instruction come in? Each adaptive lesson has an associated slideshow, in which an expert does an example problem, and every question is accompanied by an answer explanation.

To be honest, this did not feel like enough to me. Given that The Princeton Review is such a behemoth in test prep, I expected video explanations for the questions, and live-action presentations for the lessons themselves (and perhaps with more than one question apiece).

That said, the course does appear to offer a very wide range of lessons, each with its own introduction, adaptive lesson, and question drill. We might say, then, that The Princeton Review makes up for a lack of instructional depth with its breadth of content.

Ease of Use

The Princeton Review’s coursework portal is simple and intuitive. A tab along the left-hand side allows you to navigate between sections, which in turn spawn a selection of lessons. I liked how the portal would save my progress, so I could continue a lesson where I had left off before.

I also appreciated how the course differentiated between strategy and content-based lessons, which are two very different elements of test preparation that often get lumped together.

At the same time, I felt that the portal was a little too simple in some respects. At least in the trial version, there was no tool that tracked my progress against a goal or gave me a roadmap for how to achieve my target score.

Final Thoughts

Princeton Review offers students a comprehensive GMAT prep course from a long time leader in the industry.  The course content is reasonably priced and offers students a range of course options including both self prep and in person course options.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced instruction, especially coming from such an established company.
  • Dedicated mobile app for on the go access to prep material.
  • Coaching and Q&A sessions provide the opportunity for live feedback.
  • Adaptive learning algorithm emulates the GMAT test structure.
  • Straightforward score-increase guarantee.

Cons

  • The self paced program offers a great range of study material, but if you want more in depth video based content you will need to purchase the GMAT Ultimate course option.

For more information about Princeton Review, we recommend doing a free trial of the Self Paced GMAT course.

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