Stanley Kaplan

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Stanley H. Kaplan
Stanley Kaplan

(1919-05-24)May 24, 1919
New York City
DiedAugust 23, 2009(2009-08-23) (aged 90)
New York City
Other namesCram King[1]
Alma materCity College of New York
Occupation(s)Test preparation tutor and entrepreneur
Known forFounder of Kaplan, Inc.
SpouseRita Gwirtzman Kaplan

Stanley Henry Kaplan (May 24, 1919 – August 23, 2009) was an American businessman and scholastic test preparation pioneer who founded Kaplan, Inc., in 1938.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Kaplan was born in New York City, to Jewish immigrant parents from the present-day countries of Latvia and Belarus. He grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. He was the son of a plumbing contractor. His grandson is Scott Belsky[2]

He entered City College of New York at the age of 16 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and second in his class in 1939.[3] He received his M.S.E. (Master of Science in Education) from City College in 1941.[4]


An aspiring physician, Kaplan hoped to enter medicine, but claimed was rejected from all five New York City area medical schools because ethnic quotas for Jewish students had already been filled.[2] In his autobiography, he asserted that this experience led him to favor standardized testing, which he believed would have allowed him to demonstrate his merit to medical schools.[3]

In 1938, Kaplan founded the Stanley H. Kaplan Co. as a tutoring service based in the basement of his parents' home in Brooklyn, New York.[2] At first, he tutored high school students to take the New York State Regents Examinations, but in 1946, in response to a student's request, Kaplan expanded his business to include preparation for what was then called the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).[3] This coincided with a large increase in college enrollment following World War II, when the United States government passed the GI Bill.[2]

Kaplan marketed his for-profit company's products on the notion that its tutorials and test preparation materials could increase a student's SAT scores.[2] In 1979, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation into claims that the test prep industry was advertising its services too aggressively. Kaplan had claimed that his company could increase a student's SAT score by 100 points, though he never paid for advertising this claim.[2] The Federal Trade Commission concluded that Kaplan may indeed raise a student's math and verbal SAT scores, but only by an average of 25 points, not the 100 points that Stanley Kaplan had believed.[2]

The conclusion by the FTC that Kaplan could raise scores, even by as little as 25 points, rapidly expanded the company's business and attracted thousands of new customers.[2] Leading figures within education, especially higher education, continued to scoff at Kaplan's company, saying that no student could effectively study for the SATs.[2] Educators claimed that the SATs measured a person's "innate ability to learn", not their "actual learning."[2]

A turning point in relations between Stanley Kaplan and the educational establishment came in 1983, when the College Board, which administers the SATs, asked Kaplan to speak at its annual conference.[2] In an article in 2009, The Washington Post wrote that Kaplan viewed the invitation by the College Board as one of the high points of his life.[2] Kaplan opened his speech to the conference attendees by telling them that, "Never, in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be speaking to you here today."[2]

In 1984, Stanley Kaplan sold his company to The Washington Post Company for $45 million.[2] The acquisition enabled the Washington Post Company, whose operations had previously focused on newspapers, to become a larger media and education entity.[2] At the time of Stanley Kaplan's death in 2009, the Kaplan Co. brought in two-thirds of its annual revenue from other educational services besides SAT prep, such as pre-kindergarten and even accredited law programs.[2] In 2008, Kaplan Co.'s revenue was $2.3 billion, from an estimated one million students who enrolled in its courses that year.[2] In a single quarter of 2009, Kaplan, Inc., accounted for approximately 58% of The Washington Post Company's total revenue.[2]


Weeks after the folding of Kaplan subsidiary SCORE! Educational Centers, Stanley Kaplan died of a heart ailment on August 23, 2009, at his home in New York City at the age of 90.[2]

Selected works[edit]

  • Kaplan, Stanley H. (with Anne Farris), Stanley H. Kaplan, test pilot : how I broke testing barriers for millions of students and caused a sonic boom in the business of education, New York : Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 074320168X


  1. ^ Eliza Gray (October 12, 2015). "Bubble trouble". Time.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Sullivan, Patricia (August 25, 2009). "Test-preparation pioneer Kaplan, 90, dies". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b c Arenson, Karen W., "Stanley Kaplan, Pioneer in Preparing Students for Exams, Dies at 90", The New York Times, August 24, 2009
  4. ^ "Obituary: Stanley Kaplan". The New York Times, paid obituary, August 25, 2009.

Further reading[edit]