Are you looking for the best SAT prep program? There are a lot of programs on the market, so it can be overwhelming to choose the right one from the bunch.
Kaplan is one of the best-known college admission prep courses, and for good reason. Kaplan offers students the option of learning online or in-person, and either guiding themselves with high-quality teacher produced content or teacher-led. Prices vary, but it can still be challenging to find the perfect prep plan, which still falls within your budget.
In this review, I would cover all kinds of materials provided by Kaplan. They boast some of the highest quality materials and realistic test questions that adapt to their strengths and weaknesses. The first hurdle is just deciding what kind of learner the student is and whether instructor-led or self-led courses would be the better option.
SAT Instructor-led courses
Live online courses take place on a defined schedule, allowing students to tune in all around the country. If you purchase this course, your child will receive 18 hours of live classes and 30 hours of elective, online instruction on Kaplan’s SAT Channel. During the live lessons, other teachers are waiting on stand-by on the live chat, to answer any personal questions students may have, but are too shy to ask in front of the whole group.
If they are still looking for some extra practice, students have access to 40 hours of on-demand, pre-recorded lessons as well as 4 official practice tests supplied by the College Board. Students also have access to supplementary digital resources like Qbank and various online quizzes.
Students will busy schedules or without a license will benefit most from this program type. Although the live classes are held on a defined schedule at specific times, students can join in anywhere, allowing for no excuses why they can’t attend.
Kaplan offers students a total of 18 hours within the physical classroom, with an additional 30 hours of elective, live online lessons. Like with the previous package, students will also gain access to the 40 hours of pre-recorded lessons online, practice tests, SAT prep books, and online Kaplan resources like Qbank.
This option is excellent for students who prefer traditional learning methods instead of doing everything virtually. However, it may not be the best option for students who need to be driven to classes or have an extremely busy schedule.
Unlimited prep is the only resource students will need for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT that lasts through December of their senior year. Unlimited prep gives no-restrictions access to all of the materials Kaplan offers, including all live online and in-person classes. An upgrade of $400 adds six hours of private tutoring.
One on One tutoring by Kaplan can take place online or in-person. Before a student is matched with their perfect tutor, Kaplan reviews their academic background, learning style, and SAT goals. Once the tutor has been selected, he or she will create a personalized study plan for the student to fit their needs and busy schedules.
One on one tutoring is excellent for students who are really struggling and need individual attention or have difficulties applying themselves in group settings. Since the tutoring is personalized, you can be confident the student is only reviewing what he or she needs, not following a standard class curriculum.
Self-led SAT preparation with Kaplan
The digital self-paced course by Kaplan is composed of on-demand, pre-recorded lessons reaching a total of 40 hours on their website. Once this plan is purchased, the student has 6 months’ worth of access. Like the teacher-led course options, students will still receive access to 8 practice tests (4 of which are official College Board tests), Kaplan online resources, and SAT prep books. Upgrading to the Live Online Essentials plan adds an additional 30 hours of live digital instruction to the package.
This option is great for students who do feel confident in their skills and abilities but feel the need to brush up on some core skills heading into the exam. Self-paced courses should not be chosen if the student has shown previous difficulties sticking to a schedule or keeping themselves motivated, where a teacher-led course would be a better option.
Kaplan’s SAT instructors hold rapid Review live courses meant to give a quick, yet in-depth review of key subjects. They also present the different kinds of questions students will encounter on the SAT as well as different learning strategies they can put to use. Students can choose between Introductory or Advanced sessions, based on their academic experience and confidence in the subject.
Since these sessions are meant to be a quick refresher, they are more suitable for students who generally have a good grasp on the subject area, but want an additional last-minute review before the SAT.
Kaplan’s Qbank allows students to take quizzes with questions just like the ones they will see on the official SAT test. Each question is followed by a detailed explanation of the answer and tips for solving similar problems in the future.
Qbank is an excellent tool for students who have test-taking anxiety and are looking to practice SAT-like questions before the exam. Using Qbank regularly leading up to the SAT could help improve their stress levels and anxiety towards the exam.
This is a monthly based program, so charges are reoccurring, unlike the other Kaplan plans. The College Prep Pass includes everything a student needs heading into the college application process with information and lessons for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and AP exams.
Instructors are also on standby to provide helpful information about college applications as well as proofread college essays. At an additional cost, students can also have the chance to meet with a personal college coach for 30 minutes a month to keep them on track to their college goals.
The positives at a glance:
1. A large variety of learning/course options, perfect for different kinds of learners.
2. Guarantee program
Kaplan guarantees that each student will see a significant improvement in their SAT scores compared to their baseline test. If not, the family can get their money back, or continue attending virtual classes over an additional 12-week period – for free.
Although, this doesn’t happen often! Most students do see significant improvements because the Kaplan prep course quality is so high.
3. THE company for everything college prep related
Kaplan also offers PSAT, ACT, and AP exam prep, something you don’t find with other companies on the market.
4. Test-taking strategies
It also offers test-taking strategies, not just the basics of math or grammar. These strategies could encourage self-proclaimed bad test takers and give them the confidence they need for exam day.
5. The number of practice tests
Kaplan offers its students a whopping 8 practice tests, half of which are official copies of official College Board tests. Other leading courses, like Princeton Review, only offer 2 to 4 full-length practice tests during their courses.
Out of all of the SAT courses on the market today, Kaplan, by far, offers students the longest possible study time, on average. However, the number one question remains whether the student is willing or able to take advantage of the time offered to them. If their schedules are completely booked and they can hardly work with Kaplan, it may not be the best choice for them.
7. Support lines
Kaplan has a vast web of helpful resources for students and their families, whether it be regarding a troublesome SAT question, general themes or topics covered in the SAT or even questions about the college application process. In addition to standard face-to-face, email, and phone contact, students can connect in live chat rooms or through social media should they encounter any issues.
Teachers are valued based on their ability to help students on a personal level with their individual difficulties. Even self-led learning options online are smart and adapt to the student’s strengths and weaknesses, something that isn’t offered or possible in other prep programs. This helps students use their time wisely and dedicate their learning to subjects they really need help with, not the ones they already master.
The negatives at a glance:
1. Dissatisfaction with your score ≠ a refund
If your score improved from your baseline, but you still aren’t happy with it, you are unable to get a refund.
Although Kaplan offers a wide variety of plans, the most comprehensive ones are obviously the most expensive, which can really burn a hole in your wallet. That’s why, before heading into the course, it is absolutely necessary to talk with the student and find out how much time they could really dedicate to Kaplan and its resources.
The final price will depend on the student’s abilities going into the SAT. If they are generally well prepared and only need to touch up on a few topics, they can choose a Kaplan plan with a lower price tag, like the Rapid Review program. However, students who are either extremely anxious about the SAT® process or need more hands-on guidance will need the more expensive options to get the most out of the opportunity.
Remember, there is a payment plan in place that allows families to pay for the Kaplan plan over 3 installments. But, depending on the course you choose, these payments could still be quite hefty.
3. Kaplan instructors score at a lower percentile
Kaplan’s instructors generally score at the 90th percentile for their SATs, which is lower than some other leading SAT prep companies. However, the instructors tend to be more personable and willing to dive into your weak subjects to make you better. They focus on teaching helpful Kaplan strategies that can keep students motivated and positive about their scores. In some student’s eyes, this may more than well make up for their lower, but still impressive, test scores.
5. The first instructor match isn’t always perfect
Although most students are happy with their instructors, some do note that some instructors are unable to explain topics in a way that matches their specific learning style. Some have also expressed dissatisfaction with teachers’ rude or degrading attitudes. So, it is important to get in contact with Kaplan immediately, should the instructor-student relationship not be a great match. As far as previous students are concerned, Kaplan does try to remedy the problem, and either has a sit-down with that instructor or looks for a replacement.
Overall, Kaplan is a great SAT prep solution, if you are prepared to dedicate the necessary time and funds. F0llowing the program, students will feel more comfortable with the subjects they previously avoided and generally more confident in their test-taking abilities come exam day.