Getting into some of the top Graduate School programs in the United States requires excellent grades and a high GRE score. As such, there is no shortage of GRE Prep courses to choose from.
Choosing a course from the many options available can be overwhelming. We are going to take a look at one of the most popular GRE Prep courses today, from Kaplan GRE Test Prep. We will take an in-depth look at their program and get feedback from students who have used the program.
Kaplan is a well-known name in education. Having been in business for over 80 years, Kaplan has built a solid reputation for providing quality programs, books, and classes. Founded in 1838 by Stanley Kaplan, the company was primarily a tutoring resource for individuals entering college.
Over the years, the company expanded to include tutoring sites around the country. Kaplan became a familiar name in education and tutoring. They are expanding their business to include professional training, their own higher educational programs, online university programs, test prep classes, books, and computer programs. They run many different prep courses such as GRE, ACT, MCAT, and LSAT prep courses
With their diverse experience in the Education industry, Kaplan is the leader in the market. As the first test prep company in the country, as well as one of the first online educational resources, Kaplan has often been the model or standard for other companies and programs that have since followed suit.
In that regard, you can expect any of the tutoring programs, test preparation books, and test prep classes – whether online or in the classroom, to be a solid choice. They have been doing this for a very long time, and as such, have a good understanding of what works in terms of test prep, and consistently score high marks from students.
What is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?
The general GRE, or the Graduate Record Examination, is a comprehensive exam that measures verbal reasoning (2 25-question sections), quantitative reasoning (2 25-question sections), analytical writing (1 section, two writing samples), and critical thinking. It is a standardized, computer-generated test that many colleges & universities weigh heavily when determining admission to graduate programs.
The verbal portion and quantitative reasoning portions of the GRE are scored on a scale from 130 – 170, in whole numbers. The analytical writing section is scored between 0 – 6, in half-point increments. There are additional GRE tests for specific schools of study, such as Biology, Chemistry, Literature, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. However, the General GRE is the most widely taken and, for some programs, can make the difference between an application being accepted or denied.
For reference, here are some of the GRE scores required for admission in the School of Engineering for some of the top programs in the US:
|University of Pennsylvania||155||166|
Each graduate program has different GRE requirements. However, the numbers above are fairly standard for maths and science-based fields of study at the top US graduate schools.
What can make the GRE challenging is the low number of questions? With four sections of only 25 questions each, even one or two questions can make the difference between a good score and a great one. It can also make a difference between an average score and a disappointing one. This factor, along with the competitive nature of many graduate programs, can make the whole process of taking the GRE quite intimidating.
Is a GRE Preparation Class the right decision for me?
For many, I think it may be difficult to decide whether or not to take a GRE preparation class. After four years of Undergraduate experience, some students aren’t sure if they need it. Also, let’s not forget, preparation classes may be expensive. Money can be hard to come by as a college student. Therefore it is important to be sure that you are getting value for your money.
It is important to do all of the necessary research. Some schools use GRE as a major factor when making admissions decisions. For other schools, or specific programs within a school, it may not be as important.
For some areas of study, the GRE is critical. I would recommend to any student who is trying to decide if a GRE prep class is for them to compare the admission requirements of different schools throughout the country. Talk to students in these programs. Talk to an admissions counselor at your top picks, and talk to your friends who have taken GRE prep classes.
A few points on the GRE can make an enormous difference for some programs and schools. If a GRE prep class can help you meet your goals, it may be money well spent.
If you decide a GRE prep class makes good sense for you, it’s time to find the right one.
Kaplan GRE Prep Course Options
Kaplan offers students several options for GRE prep courses.
GRE Self-Paced Online Complete Course
The fee: from USD 449.00
Probably the most popular course is their GRE Self-Paced Online Complete Course.
It is a comprehensive plan that includes
- Six months access to all materials
- over 180 hours of online instruction
- access to QBank, with over 5000 test questions for study
- self-paced GRE Math programs
- 2 GRE test prep books
- Seven full practices test (online)
- and access to 35 hours of live instruction on the GRE Channel.
Finally, Kaplan also provides students an opportunity to do a “test day experience” practice test, which simulates the real thing. This practice test allows participants to work out all their test day jitters beforehand.
GRE Live Online Complete and In-Person Course
The fee (Online Course):
USD 999.00 USD 799.00
The fee (In-Person Course): USD 1200.00
This course includes
- 21 hours of live instruction
- 3 hours of one on one tutoring
- self-paced GRE math programs
- over 180 hours of online instruction
- access to QBank and over 5000 practice questions
- 2 GRE prep books
- Seven full practice tests online
- access to 35 hours of live instruction on the GRE Channel
- and the “test day experience” practice exam.
180 Hours of Online Instruction
The online instructions are pre-recorded classroom-style lectures with demonstrations and exercises. It feels very much like a typical class experience, and the information is taught well, with examples. The instructors have a nice presentation style, and the information is relayed in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. The videos also offer some helpful test day strategies and hints.
The program comes with 2 GRE Prep workbooks. There are online versions as well as physical versions of the books. They are nicely laid out, including exercises, and practice questions, and test-taking strategies to use for each section of the actual exam, quantitative, verbal, and written. The books are very helpful, and can be purchased outside of the GRE prep program. However, they are better used in tandem with the online lesson. The books are a great supplement to the lessons provided via online instruction.
The GRE channel is an optional portion of the program that is very helpful. It includes both live and on-demand lessons on specific topics, with examples. They are especially helpful when discussing the mathematical topics, formulas, and test strategies.
QBank is a wonderful resource. It is Kaplan’s question bank of over 5000 test questions. The users create self-quizzes to go over information that may be more difficult or for which the student needs additional practice. The user gets to select the topics for the questions, along with the skill level (easy/medium/hard). There are two modes the user can work in; tutor modes, which is unlimited time, allowing the student to work out each problem carefully, or timed mode, which simulates test day.
QBank is a very helpful resource, as students can start with easy questions in tutor mode, and slowly work up to the harder questions, and ultimately move into timed mode. This gives users a great simulation of the actual test day experience and can help a student prepare for the live test. The best part about Qbank is the point by point process of showing how a problem is solved, so if a user struggles with a particular problem, they can see step by step, how the problem should have been solved.
Kaplan offers several full-length practice tests that give students a realistic test day experience, at least in terms of the type of questions they will see, as well as the time allowed per section. Between the QBank program and the practice tests, students have a ton of opportunities to run test simulations, identify areas of weakness, make the necessary corrections, and finally, watch the pertinent video instruction to better learn the topic.
Test Day Experience Practice Test
This is probably one of the best features of the Kaplan program, and not everybody seems to take advantage of this. Kaplan includes their test day experience with every GRE prep program. Essentially, it is a replica of what the test taker will experience on test day. The practice test is administered at a GRE testing center, and the user will go through the exact process, from check in to test completion, that will occur on test day. This is an invaluable lesson, as it gives insight to the student that can’t be gained anywhere else.
Just like on the real test day, participants should arrive at the testing center (same center where they will be taking their test) 30 minutes early, sign in and bring their identification. The day will run exactly like a typical test day. Be aware that students can not bring any extra items into the testing room. The simulated test is a great way for students to get rid of any test day fears, get a sense of how the day will go, and understand exactly what the process will be like on their actual GRE day.
Tips on Getting the Most out of Kaplan GRE Prep Programs
All in all, Kaplan provides a strong preparation program for students wishing to take the GRE. Even with the online live and classroom live programs, there are a ton of online resources available with the Kaplan program. Since the online information is all self-paced, it is important to take a deep dive into the material and use the resources provided.
The online lessons are great, but they are only one piece of the overall puzzle. Many students who take self-paced programs make the mistake of only watching the lectures, and focusing on the practice tests. With the Kaplan program having the bulk of material online for all students, whether classroom, online live, or self-paced, it is really important to make use of all the materials.
The study books provide a ton of information, strategy, and lesson assessments that are helpful when preparing for the exam. Besides, the optional GRE Channel videos are really helpful. They cover one specific topic and are taught by one of the Kaplan instructors. They do an excellent job of explaining difficult concepts and solutions for the problems.
Students should also take advantage of QBank. Qbank has over 5000 questions and is adaptive to your skill level, students can create endless practice quizzes, and with any wrong answer, QBank will provide the appropriate solution. It is an excellent learning tool!
What do users say about Kaplan GRE prep course?
- Online program is easy to use, works well, and is very user friendly.
- There is a ton of useful material included in the program.
- The practice tests are helpful, and the simulated test day experience is a great way to be completely prepared for what will happen on test day.
- Online customer support is sometimes slow to respond to customer inquiries.
- While Kaplan’s program is solid, there is not much new or revolutionary to make it stand out.
All in all, Kaplan’s GRE program is well worth the money, time, and effort. As is typical with Kaplan, this is a solid program that, if worked fully, will help students prepare and be well prepared for their GRE test day. However, the important thing to remember here is that Kaplan provides everything a student will need to prepare. It is incumbent on the student to truly do a deep dive into all the materials to truly get the most of the Kaplan program.