Kaplan Test Prep vs Khan Academy for the SAT

The SAT test is the pinnacle test of high school- everything you have gained in your last few years, from knowledge to work ethic, comes into play once you fill in that first bubble on the answer sheet. Thankfully, if you’ve made it this far, you deserve to be here. Years of practice and accomplishments have prepared you to excel to a higher level.

This is where prepping comes in. With years of practice serving as the foundation, specialized training will be your final push to victory: a great score to improve your college opportunities. Since the importance of SAT prepping is very clear, it has also become a competitive market. The only thing that matters to you, however, is making sure that you receive the best training.

For many well-deserved reasons, the final two competitors are often Khan Academy vs. Kaplan. Both have reported large amounts of success, but when it comes down to it, which one do you choose? Let’s make an educated decision by starting with the background of both companies.


Kaplan, Inc was founded in a Brooklyn basement in 1938 by Stanley H. Kaplan. By 1941, Kaplan received his Master of Science in Education, and boosted by the then-unheard of before GI Bill, Kaplan Inc. took off.

Kaplan Test Prep prepares students for over 90 standardized tests such as the MCAT, GMAT, and of course, the SAT. A for-profit corporation, it is now a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company with a 2017 revenue of 1.5 billion.

Khan Academy was founded in 2006 after Salman Khan tutored his cousin online using the Yahoo! Doodle Image program. Born on October 11, 1976 in Louisiana, Khan received his Master of Science in 1998 along with a Master of Business Administration later.

Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization mainly funded by philanthropic organizations; but corporations such as Google and AT&T have also lent support. In 2017, Khan Academy joined forces with the College Board as its official SAT practice partner.


Both test prep companies ambitions are to increase a student’s test scores with tools to prepare you for the SAT. The College Board reports that Khan Academy is presenting an average of 115 point improvement on the SAT with diligent use of their services. While Kaplan’s rates vary due to what course results they do report, they are so confident in their expertise that they have a money back guarantee if results aren’t developed. Which leads us to one of the major differences in most companies…


Kaplan provides a range of prices for their services. They are currently starting at:
-$599 for in-person support
-$599 for live online support
-$2299 for online or in-person one-on-one tutoring

Other test prep options include and Unlimited Prep for $1299 and an Online Only Self-Paced program for $299. There are also SAT Subject Tests options and a course that focuses on Math for various prices.

Since Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization, all of its services are free.

An In-depth Look at Services

Kaplan’s In-Person Support Program includes offers 18 hours of live instruction plus 30 hours of live instruction on the online The SAT Channel. The Plus version of this program includes 3 hours of 1-on-1 coaching, a math-specific program, and SAT prep resources. You begin with a diagnostic practice test with this program, then you learn the essential general dynamics of the SAT such as reading comprehension, grammar and math. Kaplan also offers “Kaplan Methods” for excelling in areas unique to the SATs. The Live Online and Plus versions offer these same services, but with the convenience of being able to do it online in a location of your choosing.

Kaplan also offers an SAT Tutoring program currently starting at $2299 which offers private instruction complete with four practice tests with score analysis and on-demand practice classes. This program also includes the above In-person or online support program.

The Unlimited Prep program allows a student to retake any of the prep courses until December of their senior year of high school, and the Online Only Self-Paced program provides two options: One includes 40 hours of recorded instruction for $299, and the Live Online Essentials includes this along with 30 hours of elective live SAT Channel instruction and 8 practice tests with live proctoring.

All Kaplan courses include 8 practice tests, four of which were previously administered SAT tests, online quizzes, and SAT prep books.

Khan Academy’s Official SAT practice offers the following:

  • 8 full-length tests from the College Board
  • A virtually endless amount of practice questions, test-taking hints, and video lessons
  • A practice plan built from your imported PSAT scores
  • On-call feedback about your progress

The Official SAT Practice program is able to find out your strengths and weakness by analyzing your PSAT scores that you can easily upload into its system. It then gives you the chance to take the full-length SAT online or on paper an unlimited amount of times with step-by-step video solutions guiding you through the tough questions. An exclusive bonus also available from this program is being able to get unreleased questions from the actual SAT Board thanks to its alliance with the College Board.

Khan Academy also offers extensive reading, writing, and math practice programs that involve a walk-through tutorial guide, and practice questions are categorized by difficulty levels to help you navigate. Next, a personalized Official SAT Practice is administered to keep up with your progress.

The company also supplies a large amount of SAT coaching tools, along with SAT lesson plans written by teachers.

What’s The Best Choice?

While both esteemed companies are certainly successful, you have to decide where to best invest your efforts. A study with Khan Academy and the College Board has determined that over 40% of SAT test takers are enrolled in Khan Academy’s Official SAT Practice, and the academy boasts a 115 point-improvement in scores. This is twice as much as other for-profit programs such as Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc. An important thing to know is that these increases were the same across varied factors such as gender, race, income levels, GPAs, and family education levels.

While benefits such as the program being free and proven results make Khan Academy a no-brainer choice for many, some may feel concerns about its lack of in-person training that Kaplan provides; after all, every student is unique, and standard explanations may not always completely help. Khan Academy understands this, and it prides itself on stressing a heightened interactive element in programs by providing feedback both at the student’s own pace, and also during times where the student appears to be struggling.


The SATs have been revised to adhere closer to high school lessons, and it’s best to stay current for the best results. Khan Academy provides the unique opportunity of receiving current SAT questions, advice, and information directly from the source of its administrator, with the unheard of bonus of being free to all. Here’s to your success!