One of the oldest names in test prep, Kaplan has been in operation for nearly 100 years. It was originally founded by Stanley H. Kaplan, who began tutoring high school students from the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn home all the way back in 1938.
An aspiring physician, Kaplan had previously been rejected by five New York City area medical schools on the basis that the ethnic quotas for Jewish students had already been filled. Naturally, that turned Kaplan into a strong proponent of standardized testing.
The company has grown significantly since the days when Kaplan himself used to prep teenagers for their New York State Regents examinations. Today, Kaplan is owned by Graham Holdings Company (formerly the Washington Post Company) and has more than 12,000 employees and over a million students in dozens of countries across the globe. The company also has 10,000+ business clients and 1,000+ educational partners.
What is Kaplan?
Kaplan is a for-profit education company (not to be confused with the Kaplan Institute) that provides test prep for over 90 different standardized tests. These include college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT, graduate school entrance exams such as MCAT and the LSAT, and professional education & licensing exams like the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
Unlike some test prep companies, Kaplan’s offering isn’t limited to online classes. While Kaplan has plenty of online courses (both on-demand and live), it also gives students the option to attend live in-person classes.
Kaplan also provides tutoring services and simulated exam experiences. For example, if you’re studying for the GRE, you can sit a GRE practice exam at the actual GRE Testing Center. At the end of the GRE test-taking experience, you get your score and a rundown of your performance. If you suffer from test anxiety, this can really help boost your confidence.
What is the Kaplan test?
The Kaplan test, or the Kaplan Nursing School Admissions Test, is a nationally normed assessment that measures a student’s ability to succeed at nursing school based on their knowledge in physiology, math, and reading.
How Does Kaplan Work?
The exact steps involved in completing a Kaplan course depend on which test you’re studying for. Nevertheless, the steps are relatively similar from one course to the next. I tested the Kaplan SAT On Demand course, which entailed the following steps:
1. Create a Kaplan account
Registering for a Kaplan account is easy. Since I was signing up for a 7-day free SAT On Demand trial, all I had to do was fill out my first and last name and email and create a password.
If you’re buying a course, you’ll need to put in additional information (for Kaplan’s SAT Review On Demand course, that includes parent information, school information, and graduation date) as well as credit card details. Kaplan doesn’t accept PayPal or other forms of online payments.
2. Learn about the course and test
As soon as I signed up with Kaplan, I was taken to a clean and minimalist dashboard. On the left-hand side, I could see five different learning “levels” and practice tests.
Level 1 is divided into six different sections. The first section consists of two videos, one of which explains the layout of the Kaplan SAT On Demand course and another that goes over the SAT structure and scoring.
3. Take a diagnostic practice test
The next step is to take a diagnostic practice test to get a baseline score. The practice test (section 2 of level 1) consists of a PDF from the College Board website and a 3-hour-long proctoring video. When you finish the test, you have to manually enter your results into Kaplan to get your score (quite a tedious process!)
Once you submit your results, you get a total score, reading and writing score, and math score. You can see the questions you got right and the questions you got wrong across all four sections (evidence-based reading, writing and language, math – no calculator, and math calculator).
You also get a performance summary. This summary helps you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. You can reset the test for future use.
If you want to, you can also do the optional essay. Again, you have to download the essay PDF and play the proctoring video.
After you write the essay by hand, you’re supposed to type it into the Kaplan system and submit it for grading. An expert will take a look at your essay within five business days and assign you Reading, Analysis, and Writing scores.
4. Complete lessons to progress through the different levels
It’s time to start studying! The first lesson in Level 1 is “Math: Word Problems.” The lesson begins with an on-demand video that promises to teach students how to translate word problems into equations.
The video is fun and easy to follow. I liked how the lecturer encouraged me to solve the problem alongside him and the two other students that appeared in the prerecorded video. Before the problem, I was encouraged to take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. I thought that that was a nice touch and, if applied during the actual test, could help reduce anxiety.
After the video lesson, I could practice my newly learned skills with a short quiz. Each question was followed with the correct answer and an explanation.
When I completed the quiz, I had the option of taking a few practice questions (three problems and a challenge question).
The difference between the practice questions and the quiz is that if you get a practice question wrong, you can watch a video of an expert solving it. By watching the expert break down the questions, you can also learn alternate strategies, like how to work backward from an answer.
Apart from “Math: Word Problems,” Level 1 contains four additional lessons, including “Writing and Language: Sentence Structure,” “Math: Solving Equations,” “Writing and Language: Commas, Dashes, and Colons,” and “Math: Linear Graphs.”
Each lesson follows the same structure — you watch an on-demand video lesson, do a quiz, and answer practice questions.
Every level (there are five levels in total) consists of five lessons (a mixture between math and writing and language). The higher the level, the more challenging the lessons.
Note that the SAT free trial only covers Level 1 and Level 2. After that, you’ll need to buy the actual course.
5. Create a quiz
If you don’t feel like the quizzes at the end of each lesson give you quite enough practice, you can create your own. To do that, click on “Qbank” at the top of the dashboard.
When making a quiz, you can choose:
- Question type. Unused, correct, incorrect, or bookmarked questions.
- Topic. Evidence-based reading, math calculator, math no calculator, and writing and language.
- Quiz length. Up to 25 questions.
At the end of every quiz, you can see the number of questions you got right and wrong, the total time it took you to complete the quiz, and the topics covered. You can also review every question to get strategic advice and guidance on how to get the correct answer.
6. Take a practice test
In between Level 3 and Level 4, you can take a mid-course practice test and at the end of Level 5, you can take a final practice test.
Like the diagnostic practice test, the two tests here contain a proctoring video and a PDF from the College Board Website. When you complete the PDF, you can enter your results into Kaplan and then review them. You can also complete the optional essays which will be graded by a Kaplan expert.
Feeling stressed? At the end of the mid-course practice test, you can learn how to better manage stress, fatigue, and time.
7. Extra practice
Don’t slack off now! The final section, “Extra Practice,” will not only tell you what to bring and expect on test day, but it will also help you solidify your knowledge with an additional quiz and one final practice test.
How Much Does Kaplan Cost?
The cost of studying with Kaplan depends on the kind of test you’re preparing for and the type of course you opt for. For more information on the costs of the specific types of Kaplan prep courses, refer to the following sections of the Kaplan review:
Keep in mind that prices may vary due to special promotions. Also, while you can pay the full amount upfront, you can choose to pay the non-refundable registration fee and the rest later or pay in installments instead. If you’re unhappy with a course, you can get a refund. However, the refund policy differs from test to test and from course to course.
For example, to receive a 100% refund for a Graduate Program, you need to cancel the course within three days after you buy it. If you cancel it within 4 to 7 days, you’ll get a 75% refund. If you cancel it on day eight or later, you’re not entitled to a refund at all. On the other hand, to get a refund for the Bar Review course, you have to cancel it within 48 hours. Otherwise, you’ll be obligated to continue paying for tuition (where applicable).
Kaplan Bar Prep
The Kaplan Bar Review course comes with a dynamic syllabus based not only on the state you intend to practice in but also on your strengths and weaknesses. You also receive on-demand or live (either online or in-person) classes, 4,000 MBE practice questions, online flashcards, and Kaplan Bar Review mobile app.
Additionally, you have the chance to take simulated exams and practice with real essays that are graded by lawyers who have already passed the exam. These lawyers give you feedback, too, so that you know how you can improve in the future.
If you have a question about the bar exam, you can email Kaplan’s academic attorneys. They should get back to you within three days. Need more personalized coaching? Guided tutoring is available for an additional fee.
When you buy Kaplan Bar Review, you automatically get access to the Kaplan Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) Review. This will be of great help to you when preparing for the required ethics portion of the exam.
How much does Kaplan Bar cost?
Kaplan offers three different Bar Review packages: On Demand ($2,499), Live ($3,499), and Convenience ($3,999). The three packages are pretty much identical. The only real difference between them is lesson type (live or on-demand) and cost. Also, the Convenience Package lets you prepare for the bar exam in a second state at no extra cost. Kaplan tutoring starts at $999 (for 5 hours). Supplemental prep is available, too, and starts at $299.
Kaplan has an online “Law Firm Bill Enrolment Interest” form. If your firm is paying for your bar exam, Kaplan will bill the employer directly.
Kaplan NCLEX Prep
With the Kaplan NCLEX Review, you can improve your clinical reasoning with 8 hours of live or on-demand lessons taught by nurse doctors. You can also view videos that explore over 300 essential nursing topics, access NCLEX channel lessons, and read the NCLEX-RN content review guide.
When you’re ready to put your knowledge to the test, you can practice with 2,100 test-like Qbank questions and take 3 full-length computer-adaptive tests.
Also included is a 500+ page ebook, a mobile study plan, and Kaplan Decision Tree, a critical thinking method that, according to Kaplan, will help you analyze the questions on the exam.
If you’re thinking of completing additional tests, you’ll be happy to know that Kaplan offers courses for the NCLEX-PN, ATI TEAS, CCRN, and ISPN & CGFNS.
How much does Kaplan NCLEX cost?
Kaplan’s NCLEX Review course is available in three distinct packages: Self-Paced ($399 for 6 months), Live Online ($499), and In Person ($499). Here’s a sample schedule of the In Person package:
If you’re just looking for some extra practice, Kaplan provides supplemental prep, including but not limited to the Qbank ($99) and 3 full-length adaptive tests ($129).
Kaplan MCAT Prep
When you buy the Kaplan MCAT Review, you receive up to 700 hours of guided prep from MCAT instructors. This includes either 12 three-hour Zoom classes with an expert lecturer or private one-on-one tutoring sessions as well as personalized homework assignments (with the exception of the DIY course).
Furthermore, all students gain access to live or on-demand lessons and 130 interactive Science Review videos. Additionally, you can view 2,900 questions via the Qbank, complete 16 full-length practice tests, and review all the official AAMC practice material available. A 7-book MCAT Subject Review set and a Lesson Book is included in the price, as well.
Stumped by the medical school admission process? Kaplan also offers medical school admissions consulting.
How much does Kaplan MCAT cost?
Kaplan has a whole host of MCAT Review courses. These include:
- Online Course- Small Class ($2,699). Small group Zoom lessons with an expert MCAT teacher.
- Online Course – Lecture ($2499). Zoom lessons with the best MCAT teachers.
- In Person Course ($2699). Study in a physical classroom environment.
- DIY Course ($1799). Study at your own pace. Zoom classes and personalized homework not included.
- Tutoring + DIY Course ($2999). 10, 20, 30, or 40 hours of one-on-one tutoring face-to-face or online + access to the DIY course.
- Bootcamp ($6499). A strict daily schedule for five to six weeks. Includes 700+ hours of instruction and practice, small group studies, and one-on-one tutoring (available in-person or online).
If you can’t decide on the perfect plan, Kaplan has a handy quiz at the top of the Kaplan MCAT page that’ll recommend the best product for you based on the time you have left until your exam, your flexibility, and whether you prefer to study face-to-face or not. Practice material starts at $49 per month and medical school admissions consulting starts at $99.
Kaplan CFP Prep
What you get with the Kaplan CFP Review course depends on whether you choose the Essential Review or the Premium Review course.
Kaplan Essential Study Solution includes a 10-week study planner checklist that guides you through CFP Board’s 72 key knowledge topics and a pre-study, 100-question assessment that tests your preparedness for the CFP exam. You also get 7 Kaplan books (online or print) that contain application questions and relevant examples and access to the Qbank.
Kaplan Premium Review includes all of the above, as well as an eLibrary with videos that review exam topics and the various ways the CFP Board might test them. This package also comes with a full online mock exam that simulates the 6-hour CFP exam and on-demand webinars that teach you how to study, how to approach the exam, and how to destress.
How much does Kaplan CFP cost?
The Essential Review Package costs $449, whereas the Premium Review Package costs $1,348.
You can also buy tutoring and individual review books (ebooks or print format), which start at $60 and other supplementary material like online mock exams.
Kaplan SAT Prep
Kaplan SAT Review is divided into live and on-demand courses.
All Kaplan live courses come with more than 40 hours of video lessons, 18 hours of live online instruction, and access to the Kaplan SAT channel with 16 hours of video lessons. You also get access to practice tests (including official College Board exams), SAT prep books, and the Qbank.
The On Demand course gives you access to over 50 instructional videos on strategy, test content, and more as well as quizzes and 1,000+ practice questions.
How much does Kaplan SAT cost?
Kaplan On Demand SAT Review costs $149, but you can also try it for free for 7 days. As for live courses, you can choose from six different types: Live Online ($599) or Live Online PLUS ($899), Unlimited Prep ($1,599) or Unlimited Prep with Tutoring ($1,999), and In Person ($899) or In Person PLUS ($1,119).
The difference between the regular courses and the PLUS courses is that the latter includes tutoring. Also, the Live Online PLUS and In Person PLUS courses get you math foundations and ACT prep courses, whereas the Unlimited Prep with Tutoring includes proctored tests for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
Kaplan tutoring starts at $1,999 for 10 hours.
Kaplan LSAT Prep
All Kaplan LSAT Review courses include 32 hours of instruction and 180 hours of live or on-demand video lessons on basic and advanced topics via The LSAT Channel. Students also gain access to 80 official LSAT exams (these retail for about $10 each, so this is an amazing deal) with self-proctoring tools and every LSAT question ever released.
Additionally, students receive guidance from LSAT experts, individual feedback, and prep books filled with strategies and practice questions.
Running out of time? Kaplan offers a 4-week LSAT Intensive Program. During the 4 weeks, you’ll cover 120 hours of LSAT instruction (11 am to 6 pm) and get 8 hours of one-on-one tutoring. You’ll also gain access to practice questions and additional instruction via the LSAT channel.
Tutoring (either online or in-person) is available, as well.
How much does Kaplan LSAT cost?
With the Kaplan LSAT Review, you can choose from four courses: Self-Paced, Live Online – Lecture, Live Online – Small Class, and In Person.
The Self-Paced course, which gets you 4 months of access to all of the above, costs $799. The remaining three courses (Live Online – Lecture, Live Online – Small Class, and In Person) will set you back $1,299. For an additional fee, you can purchase the PLUS option of either course and get one-on-one tutoring.
A 10-hour package of tutoring that includes a class costs $2399. Kaplan LSAT Intensive Program costs $3,999.
Kaplan ACT Prep
All Kaplan ACT Review packages come with 25 hours of on-demand lessons, 9 practice tests (including 1 official test from ACT), and up-to-date ACT prep books. You also get access to Kaplan ACT Qbank.
How much does Kaplan ACT cost?
Kaplan ACT Review courses are divided into Self-Paced, Live Online, and Unlimited Prep packages.
The 6-month Self-Paced course costs $299. For $599, however, you can get the same course but with some extra perks, like 14 hours of elective on-demand instruction via the ACT channel and live proctoring for 9 practice tests.
The Live Online course costs $599. For an additional $300, you can purchase Live Online PLUS, which comes with three hours of one-on-one coaching, math foundations, and SAT prep resources.
The Unlimited Prep costs $1,599. It’s totally customizable and includes study materials for PSAT, SAT, and ACT. If you think that you could do with some personalized help, check out Unlimited Prep with Tutoring, which costs $1,999 but also comes with 6 hours of personalized one-on-one tutoring.
Alternatively, for the same price ($1,999), you can buy a 10-hour tutoring package.
Advantages (Pros) of Kaplan
Some of Kaplan’s courses have a free trial, so you can see if the platform is right for you without spending a cent. The free trial will give you access to many of the resources available on the actual course.
Wide variety of courses
It doesn’t matter what kind of learner you are — Kaplan caters to pretty much everyone. The company’s wide range of courses includes live in-person, live online, and on-demand courses.
Live in-person courses take place in a traditional classroom, with locations in almost every state and every big city.
Conversely, live online courses happen online at a pre-scheduled time. Up to 30 students can log in remotely and ask questions in real-time via the chat function to get immediate help. If you miss a class, you can catch up later by watching the recorded lecture.
You can watch an example of a live Kaplan class here.
Note that Kaplan’s live classes have a fairly heavy schedule. You’re expected to come prepared and do your homework. Depending on what kind of student you are, this might be a good or a bad thing.
On-demand lessons can be accessed at any time. You can watch these videos at 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, and 2x speeds. Captions are available, as well.
Kaplan also offers tutoring packages that give you all the features of a live online or in-person course along with access to 10, 20, 30, or 40 hours of one-on-one in-person or online tutoring.
Rigorous selection of teachers
Kaplan claims that it hires fewer than 1 in 10 candidates who apply for the position of a Kaplan instructor. That’s because Kaplan only employs people who have scored above the 90th percentile on whatever test they want to teach.
But Kaplan doesn’t want its instructors to just pass on the information — it wants them to make a genuine connection with the students. That’s why Kaplan also rates every teacher on other qualities, like compassion and dedication to students.
Once hired, a Kaplan instructor must complete more than 35 hours of training and development.
Lots of practice questions and practice tests
Kaplan’s quiz bank (Qbank) offers students thousands of exam-like questions so you can get plenty of practice, regardless of what test you’re preparing for. When creating a quiz, you can filter questions by difficulty and type.
You can also take the quiz in a timed mode to simulate the actual test. Afterward, you can review every question and see a detailed explanation for each answer choice and see a progress report.
Kaplan tests are also worth mentioning. On average, Kaplan offers more practice tests than its competitors. For example, Kaplan provides nine proctored ACT practice tests. In contrast, Princeton Review has just four proctored practice tests.
Many Kaplan courses include a Smart Reports feature that analyzes your performance on past questions to give you recommendations on what to study next.
Full test day experience
Thanks to Kaplan’s simulated exams, you can “take a test run of the day.” Because professionals in their field have crafted the questions that appear on Kaplan’s full-length tests, they’re a lot like the actual board exams. After the test, students receive their test results and a section-by-section breakdown with answers and in-depth explanations of the questions they got wrong.
Of course, taking a practice test online can’t compare to actually sitting the test. To help prepare you for the real thing, Kaplan has dozens of physical locations around the country where you can sit a simulated exam that feels a lot like the real deal.
Extra resources available
Kaplan offers a ton of offline study materials if you’d rather take a break from the screen. These include Kaplan study books (print or digital) that complement Kaplan online courses seamlessly.
Free resources are available, as well. For example, for those who are about to take their SAT, Kaplan organizes a free, teacher-led SAT Bootcamp. During the boot camp, students can review key content, learn strategies that will help them ace the SAT, and ask teachers questions in a private chat.
Kaplan also provides free practice tests. Going back to the SAT exam, you can answer “Kaplan’s Question of the Day” if you’re short on time or test your skills with a short, exam-style quiz that’ll take you about 20 minutes.
Kaplan mobile app available
All Kaplan classes come with a handy study app so you can prep for your test on the go. The app doesn’t just let you answer practice questions but also allows you to watch on-demand or even live stream videos and interact with your teacher and other students. The app syncs with the online portal so you can continue from where you left off, regardless of whether you’re on your laptop or phone.
Higher score guarantee
Kaplan guarantees that you’ll either pass a specific test or score higher on your official test than you did on the diagnostic practice test.
If you don’t achieve a higher score, Kaplan promises to extend your Kaplan studies or give you your money back. However, there are plenty of restrictions and conditions you need to meet and these might change over time, so make sure to read the full details of the guarantee.
Disadvantages (Cons) of Kaplan
High price tag
Kaplan isn’t exactly cheap. Its live courses are more expensive than those of competitors and its self-paced courses are fairly costly, too. You do get what you pay for, though, and Kaplan gives you plenty of tools to work with.
Amount of choices can be overwhelming
We mentioned Kaplan’s range of courses as one of our pros. But while some choice is better than no choice, too much choice can stress us out (ever hear of the paradox of choice?) The sheer number of packages and plans that Kaplan offers is pretty overwhelming. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re bound to feel a little lost.
Review Conclusion: Is Kaplan Worth It?
Although by no means the cheapest test prep platform out there, Kaplan caters to both traditional students who prefer the structure of a real classroom and self-studiers who’d rather study by themselves.
In addition, Kaplan offers tutoring packages. The individual attention you get there is truly hard to beat. I was also impressed with the Kaplan university admissions guidance (handy if you’re not sure how to write your personal statement or if you’re worried about the interview).
If you’re serious about crushing your upcoming test, Kaplan test prep is the way to go. Sure, it’s expensive, but you can’t put a price on quality education. That being said, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, take a look at our review of Magoosh.