By Tech Powered Dad | June 14, 2018
Princeton Review online tutors can answer questions in real time right in the browser.
What is Princeton Review?
Princeton Review is a company specializing in college admission services, such as test prep classes, tutoring, online courses, and books. The were founded in 1981 by a new college grad who started teaching SAT prep to students in New York City. While they offer test prep for a variety of tests including graduate exams like the GRE, they are best known for preparing students for the ACT and SAT tests and their annual rankings of colleges.
The Princeton Review dashboard tracks student progress.
Why Choose Princeton Review for ACT / SAT Prep?
The reason to choose Princeton Review is the same reason you choose a Lexus. The premium test prep experience is more important to your family than saving a few dollars with a budget alternative. These guys understand the college admissions game inside and out, and they know how unbelievably competitive it has gotten. They’ve spent several decades perfecting their process for preparing students to compete for spots at elite schools via their trained instructors, classes, and books. They’ve earned their reputation as one of the best ACT / SAT prep services.
If you have any doubts as to their passion, watch Paul Kanarek, co-founder and former SVP of Princeton Review practically preaching to parents a few years ago in California. He oozes passion about guiding students through the admission process in elite colleges in California and around the country with Princeton Review test prep.
What Types of ACT / SAT Review Does Princeton Review Offer?
Princeton Review has a full lineup of ACT and SAT prep options for whatever your family’s needs are. On one extreme, you can choose private tutoring, on the other an online only option. Here’s a list of some of their current options.
- 15 Practice tests
- 377 drills
- 3200+ practice questions
- Self-Paced Plus
- Everything Included in Self-Paced
- 23 Practice tests
- 5-hours of on demand tutoring
- Offers 18 or 25 (Ultimate 18 vs. Ultimate 25) hours of classroom instruction by a test prep expert
- Can be taken in person or online
- ACT Ultimate includes self-paced SAT course
- SAT Ultimate includes self-paced ACT course
- 3 proctored practice tests for Ultimate 18, 4 for Ultimate 25
- Numerous additional practice tests available online
- Customized practice recommendations
- Comprehensive Tutoring Package
- 18 hours of private tutoring for the ACT or SAT
- 3 progress meetings with tutor
- iOS and Android mobile apps for students and parents to monitor progress
- 10 online practice tests
- 1200+ questions
- 100+ drills
- Recommendation engine for further practice based on student progress
Which Princeton ACT / SAT Prep Course?
The right Princeton Review course depends on your family’s goals. If you want the traditional test prep experience, the Ultimate experience is the way to go. With the classroom experience, you’ll get a teacher led class, with scheduled hours for your child to be in attendance and clear expectations. For many students, 18 hours of prep (Ultimate 18) will be as much as they are going to want, but a particularly motivated student could do well with the the 25 hours from Ultimate 25. The great thing is that students in rural locations, once shut out of these classroom experiences, can now join these classes online.
The tutoring package is obviously the most premium package that Princeton Review offers. It’s not cheap, but your child will get 100% individual attention from the tutor, each trained in the Princeton Review methodology. Having coached elite math team competitors and now doing 1 on 1 mentoring for adults looking to change careers into tech, I can tell you that there’s no substitute for that kind of attention. The tutoring package also comes with a suite of online prep materials including practice tests, drills, and practice questions.
The one package I would skip is Self-Paced. Princeton Review has put together a high quality online program. However, if you are going with Princeton Review, the whole point is the human element. Take advantage of their online tutors and grab the Self-Paced Plus program. If you really need to stay in that Self-Paced price bracket, you’re probably better off looking at Magoosh (review), a program that doesn’t have the same level of human interaction as Princeton Review, but which offers a great online experience at a budget price. If you do take advantage of the Princeton Review Self-Paced Plus, here’s a closer look at their online tutoring support.
What is Princeton Review’s Online Experience Like?
Depending on which option you choose, you’ll very likely get access to Princeton Review’s online portal. This allows the student to track their progress, view online video lessons, take practice tests, or interact with online tutors. This short clip demos the online experience.
Does Princeton Review Offer a Score Increase Guarantee for the ACT and SAT?
Princeton Review does offer a score increase guarantee for all of their ACT and SAT programs described above. If your child’s score does not increase, you’d be eligible for a refund or to repeat the prep review course. I’d recommend reading the fine print on the guarantee, and I’d encourage you to do so. A few of the current details (subject to change) that I’d draw your attention to:
- The score will be compared to the starting score, which is defined as either:
- Your official test score that was received no more than 90 days before the start of your first Princeton Review test prep program for the identical test; or
- The score you receive on your first practice test in your test prep program with The Princeton Review that is for the identical test.
- If you choose to have your child retake the class instead of opt for the refund, you’ll have to buy their materials a second time. The cost is low, but not zero.
- Some courses are full money back if the score fails to improve with others are partial refunds. Again, you’ll want to read the full policy.
While this isn’t the most generous test prep score guarantee I’ve seen, it’s within the norm for the industry.
Is Princeton Review Worth the Money?
Princeton Review knows their market. They are going after the California family who’s trying to navigate the ultra-competitive state school system. They want the family who’s looking for a spot in an Ivy League school and knows there’s no margin for error on the SAT. They are for the family that is looking to turn a few extra points on the ACT into thousands of dollars in scholarships. They know that even the elite state schools around the country are now able to cherry pick the best students and a great test score is the minimum to get in the game. If you are really serious about the test prep process, they have a proven history of improving student scores.
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