Boutique GRE, SAT, & ACT Tutoring in San Diego, near you, and Online

 

Even if you don't picture them as evil robots (see above illustration), you still probably don't like standardized tests. Good news - Matt, Blake, and I are SAT, ACT, and GRE specialists. We're 100% focused on test prep and on helping you raise your scores.

Unlike our local competitors - who tend to employ a rotating cast of well-meaning but inexperienced 23-year-olds - we each have 15 years of experience.

If test prep was Star Wars, we'd be Obi-Wan Kenobi. Or if this was a Flaming Lips album, we'd obviously be Yoshimi.

You can read some of our customers' reviews here, or check out the 240 reviews and counting we have on Google.

Feel free to text / call / email any of us directly if you'd like to talk about working together.

- Vince Kotchian

 

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Meet Our Tutors

Vince Kotchian GRE tutor

Vince Kotchian specializes in helping MBA applicants score above 320 on the GRE. Claims to fame include publishing GRE books, apps, video courses, teaching for Gregmat, and scoring 170V 167Q. He meets clients online via Zoom. Learn more about Vince.

Blake Jensen ACT and SAT tutor

Outrageously tall and outrageously dedicated to refining his craft (test prep is his full-time job), former college basketball player Blake Jensen will draw on his 15 years of tutoring experience to help you raise your SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT score in his Carmel Valley office or online via Zoom. Learn more about Blake.

Matt Sheelen

There's no such thing as a boring session with Matt Sheelen SAT ACT and ISEE tutor. 15 years of experience tutoring the SAT, ACT, and ISEE as well as a great sense of humor make him one of our most popular and well-reviewed tutors. He meets with clients online via Zoom. Learn more about Matt.

Lauren Hammond Graduate School Personal Statements

Loved by her clients, Lauren Hammond (PhD) is our resident wordsmith and helps people with personal statements, statements of purpose, and much more. She meets with clients online via Zoom. Learn more about Lauren.

 

We Actually Are Different

 

The factor that matters most in test prep is the person working with you.

We don't hire new tutors and train them, since we realize that "tutor" is not a long-term career for most, and that we'd inevitably have lots of turnover if we hired a bunch of recent college graduates like our local competitors do. Just because someone is smart and went to a great college does NOT mean they're a good tutor - effective tutoring goes way beyond the ability to explain how to do a question. Your hairdresser doesn't do your taxes, right?

Our tutors not only can explain the test well, but will help you with everything from content to strategy to things like test anxietytest-taking skills, time management, and how to get more out of the studying and homework you do.

Experience really matters. We've learned what works and what doesn't work, so you can raise your scores as efficiently and effectively as possible - if you're willing to work hard, that is!

 

Our Values

 

  • Animal welfare + supporting military: we offer two yearly scholarships for pre-veterinary undergraduate students. Vince also offers a 15% military discount for his GRE clients.
  • People over profits: Our tutors have complete autonomy and are paid more than four times the industry average.
  • Convenience: Our tutors' phone numbers are listed on our contact page so you can call or text any of us directly. Your tutor handles all your questions.
  • Kindness and compassion: In today's stressful world, empathy and a holistic learning approach are even more important for successful teacher - student relationships.
  • Excellence: We eat, sleep, and breathe test prep, and Matt, Blake, and Vince each have 15 years of experience delivering high-quality, personalized teaching.

 

Our San Diego Locations

 

The San Diego communities we serve include Alpine, Bonsall, Borrego Springs, Camp Pendleton, Cardiff By The Sea, Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Downtown San Diego, Dulzura, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Jamul, La Jolla, Lakeside, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Miramar, Mt. Palomar, National City, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, Pacific Beach, Pala, Pine Valley, Point Loma, Poway, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, San Marcos, Santa Ysabel, Santee, San Ysidro, Solana Beach, Spring Valley, Valley Center, Vista, and Warner Springs.

Note: For our clients who don't happen to live in San Diego, or for San Diegans who just prefer online tutoring, we meet online via Zoom. 

We meet people in person at the below locations and also offer all of our services online via Zoom. (Click an address to see a map / get directions.)

 


Our Services

 

Online GRE Tutoring

Vince and Blake are our expert GRE tutors - each of them has 15+ years experience helping people raise their scores. Our GRE tutoring is completely flexible and customized to your ability, needs, and schedule. It's designed to help you improve as efficiently as possible, and to study as effectively as possible outside of the tutoring sessions. In-depth conversations about the GRE and the rules it's playing will help you understand the test better. If we can see what you're thinking, we can give you feedback on how to perfect your approach to the different kinds of GRE questions you'll need to be ready for. Having a coach in your corner for this tricky test can be invaluable!

"My experience working with Vince was extremely positive, he is a fantastic tutor and I'd recommend him to people of all ages/levels. I used Vince as a GRE tutor and was blown away by how helpful he was throughout our 3-4 months working together. He is very organized, gives clear guidance, and provides the perfect amount of structure within his study plans / follow-ups. Vince's focus on fundamentals/content first and test strategy second worked really well for me, I felt very prepared taking the test. He also helped me stay positive and remain confident in myself when practice test scores were wavering. Lastly, I appreciated his test-taking tips and mental strategies as I would probably have overlooked these details on my own. I achieved my target score on the first test I took after working with Vince and he played a big role in this! Highly recommend using him." - Abigail Quirk (see review on Google Maps)

 

SAT Tutoring

For SAT tutoring students, we completely customize the experience: every minute is focused on what the student needs. Surprisingly, most of our local competitors - that charge as much as we do for one-on-one SAT tutoring - will restrict their tutors to a rigid curriculum. We've found that a personalized approach tailored to each student's personality, ability, and learning style works much better. If your score really matters on the SAT, working one-on-one with an experienced expert can be a great investment - in fact, we specialize in working with high scorers. We offer tutoring for the entire SAT, including the Reading, Writing & Language, and Math sections. We also have extensive experience helping LD/ADHD students succeed on the SAT and often work with homeschooled students and kids experiencing test anxiety. Tutoring is online or in-person.

(Subject - verb agreement on an old SAT question - you need to know this for the current SAT!)

"SAT SCORED RAISED 260 POINTS!!! My daughter tutored with Blake for 3 months to improve her SAT score. He is extremely patient, kind and understanding. He pushed her when he knew she could do better or if she got a bit lazy. She really enjoyed his style of teaching. He taught her good study habits and test taking skills. Blake was even able to ease her test anxiety. I will be recommending Blake to every parent I know. He is worth every penny!!" - Jennifer Murdoch (see review on Google Maps)

"I was tutored by Matt Sheelen for SAT Prep. Matt is very thorough and has a number of strategies to teach a section. He made me feel comfortable when I didn't understand something. And I got into my reach school! I know if I didn't have Matt, I wouldn't be at my dream university. If you're ready to buckle down and put in some blood, sweat, and tears, I recommend Matt! Hard work really does pay off." - Aliana Witt (see review on Google Maps)

 

Digital SAT Tutoring

The new Digital SAT is here! The test is now exclusively taken online, using College Board software. It's only 2 hours long, but it's very similar to the old, paper SAT. However, there are some significant differences and challenges that you'll want to be ready for.

Get the latest news about the new Digital SAT here.

 

ACT Tutoring

Like our SAT tutoring, our ACT tutoring allows our tutors to tailor your child's study plan and instruction to make the most of their learning style, strengths, and personality. Tutoring conversations allow us to get at the heart of understanding ACT questions, so that the student can learn lessons that will help them solve similar problems in the future. This conversational style is often what higher scorers need to get from good to great. We offer tutoring for the entire ACT, including the English, Math, Reading, and Science sections. We also have extensive experience helping LD / ADHD students succeed on the ACT and often work with homeschool students and kids experiencing test anxiety. Tutoring is online or in-person.

(Vince explains "who" vs. "whom")

"My daughter worked via Skype and Facetime with Matt Sheelen for about 6 months to prepare for taking the ACT, and she improved her scores to a high level, but equally important, I think, she developed a positive spirit toward taking the test. In a nutshell, Matt is an excellent instructor on every level. Matt identified her weaknesses and tailored their work to build skills, strategy, and confidence. He is gifted in his ability to explain or reason with students creatively. Matt -- with a rare combination of seriousness and humor -- made the process feel less overwhelming. His work and personal kindness also made my daughter (and me!) feel supported in the college application process. As a parent, I particularly appreciate the positive attitude Matt inspires." - Susan L. (see review on Google Maps)

"We have had an excellent experience working with Blake. He worked with our son last year, and he scored a 34 on his first ACT exam. This year he has brought our daughter from a 24 to 31 after her first group of sessions. Easy to communicate with & really cares about our children’s personal as well as academic success. Very highly recommend!" - Karen Hallinan

 

GRE Verbal Tutoring

In our GRE verbal tutoring sessions, you'll have the opportunity to talk through verbal questions with an experienced tutor, get feedback on a minute-by-minute basis, and receive customized homework assignments based on your skill level and goals. It's the most efficient and effective way to master the test. If you're an older or non-traditional student, or if you have LD / ADHD, we are happy to help! Tutoring is online or in-person.

"I started prepping for the GRE in January 2021. Since I was starting essentially from scratch (it had been almost a decade since I last took a "real" math class or even written a full multi-page essay), I knew I wanted to spend January reviewing the essentials both on the quantitative side and on the verbal side, primarily by re-learning fundamental math concepts and building up my vocabulary. I also knew that at some point I wanted to engage a tutor to help drive accountability and ensure I was studying efficiently. I researched two potential tutors: one that was local to the Bay Area and Vince, who I had come across through various Google searches and who I also noticed was very active on the /GRE subreddit. I initially settled on the local Bay Area tutor, since he had received a decent amount of 5-star reviews and even wrote his own textbook with strategies that seemingly "cracked" the GRE test. Long story short, this first tutor was much too formulaic in his approach, and perhaps even rigid. And, while the test demands the test taker to "play by the rules," to achieve a high score on quant and especially to attain a 165+ on the verbal, one needs to approach the test not only with a sound methodology, but one must also be able to "finesse" the verbal section. **This is what Vince helped bring to my GRE prep.** I started working with Vince about 4 months into my GRE prep. Prior to working with Vince, I had previously studied exclusively third party material, including going through the entire Magoosh program (not helpful). Vince tutored me remotely via Zoom. His remote setup enabled us to have fruitful exchanges as he was equipped with technology that facilitated easy learning. I'm including this in my review because my previous tutor did not have the technology to properly conduct remote learning. Vince helped to focus my GRE prep on the right materials (he will advocate strongly for ETS material, especially for the verbal, and recommend only going to third party material for quant). He also worked with me to create weekly study plans that matched the time commitment I had previously discussed with him. During our tutoring sessions, we spent our time mostly discussing verbal topics. Especially important was how these discussions with Vince built indispensable experience that helped me understand how ETS presents the logic in the TC/SE questions types and what ETS is looking for when presenting their RC question types. As a native English speaker, I had to re-engineer how I read the passages and questions presented in the GRE. My tutoring sessions with Vince helped me acquire the test taking "finesse" in the verbal section that I needed to go from scoring in the 70th percentile (May 2021 test) to scoring in the 96th percentile (July 2021 test). If you have the resources or know you want to engage a tutor for your GRE prep, I strongly recommend connecting with Vince. And, finally, for some general test-taking advice re: the GRE. Do not let the test take control of you. You are in control of your experience with the GRE. The GRE is a game and you're there to play its 80 little puzzles. One of the best pieces of advice I got from Vince himself: "Be patient, build experience, and take your time with the test." I took that advice to heart and got the score I wanted. So, to my fellow test taker: "Be patient, build experience, and take your time with the test." - Terence Looi (see review on Google Maps)

 

GRE Math Tutoring

Whether you're really anxious and struggling with GRE quant or you're trying to get a perfect score, working with an experienced tutor can really help in two ways: 1. You'll learn exactly what to do outside of tutoring to make the most of your time, and 2. We'll share the insight that we've gained by dissecting GRE math problems with hundreds of students over the years. Going to business school or law school? We can help get you ready for this test. Tutoring is online or in-person.

"I opted for 1:1 tutoring and had a consultation with Vince who suggested Blake Jensen as the best tutor for my goal, which was to increase my quant score. I really wanted someone who could help me identify my weaknesses and mitigate them. I had taken the GRE twice before but my quant score had plateaued, despite studying and working with another tutor (who was not from VKTP). Having used another tutoring service prior, I can definitely say that Blake's explanations were much clearer and his methods much more effective. He didn't just show me how to solve individual problems, but instead taught me the broader concepts and tools that would allow me to tackle a variety of problems. He has in-depth familiarity with all of the test prep material as well, which was really beneficial when it came to crafting a study plan. After studying with Blake, I was able to increase my quant score to above a 160 and get the score I wanted for my programs. Definitely recommend!" - Hina Malik (see review on Google Maps)

 

GRE Verbal Video Course

In his GRE Verbal Precision video course, Vince explains the verbal strategies and techniques he teaches to his private GRE tutoring students. A great way to learn GRE verbal and essay strategies from an expert - at an affordable price. It's only $39 for lifetime access, and that includes access to Vince's private GRE prep squad Discord, where you can discuss questions directly with Vince!

"Vince knows what he is doing. His experience shows. He has been responsive, respectful, and encouraging throughout my time working with him. I took his online course to improve in the verbal section, and my GRE score improved by 5 in verbal to a 166 out of 170, making my dream schools seem attainable. I would highly recommend Vince to anyone who is willing to put in the work to improve." - James Thompson

 

Personalized GRE Study Plans

Vince offers personalized GRE study plans based on your unique situation, timeline, and goals - our #1 most popular GRE service!

In the personalized GRE study plan, we'll create a complete schedule with daily and weekly to-dos for math, verbal, and essays that is based on your unique situation and goals, and we'll incorporate my favorite productivity, time management, test anxiety, and study strategies.

"When I came to Vince, I had already taken the GRE twice after self-studying and leveraging Gregmat. My score was not where I wanted it to be, but I felt I could still improve it with a different way of studying. With the help of the customized study plan, discord discussions, and having someone else invested in my success, I was able to raise my score 8 points in 2 months. I don't have people in my network to discuss/study with, so I really took advantage of Vince's willingness to discuss on the discord channel. It was invaluable to work with someone in this way without having to pay the high costs of private tutoring." - Caitlin McHugh (see review on Google Maps)

 

Free GRE Resources

Vince has put together a lot of free GRE prep resources over the years. If you're self-studying for the test, at least some of these should be helpful!

(Learn GRE math with GRE Math Knight!)

"Vince's blog helped me understand the nuances of the GRE and structure a study plan for myself. This first step in my whole grad school application process definitely helped set the tone for all the other parts of my application! Though I only used the free resources, what I was able to glean from them cannot be overstated. I've even helped a friend of mine do well on the GRE since. His vocabulary app called GRE Vocabulary Cartoons gamifies vocab flashcards and is actually, dare I say, fun? It's leagues ahead of everything else out there because of all of the (hilarious) different ways it tries to create neural hooks for your brain to remember the meaning of each new word. The algorithm perfectly applies spaced repetition as well, making the app great for prepping for the GRE months in advance!" - Aishwarya Vishwanath (see review on Google Maps)

 

PSAT Tutoring

The cool thing about PSAT prep is that it's really SAT prep... the PSAT is just like the SAT except it's about 2% easier. Not only will preparing for the PSAT help you do your best, but (very) high PSAT scores can qualify you for a National Merit Scholarship. Plus, literally all your PSAT prep will pay off if you ever take its big brother - the SAT.

 

GMAT Tutoring

The GMAT is a beast, but it can be conquered through hard work and smart work. In our GMAT tutoring sessions, you'll have the opportunity to talk through questions with our expert Blake Jensen, get feedback on a minute-by-minute basis, and receive customized homework assignments based on your skill level and goals. If you're concerned about your GMAT score, tutoring is the best way to improve it efficiently so you can get on with the rest of the stuff you need to do to apply to business schools. 

 

ISEE, SSAT and HSPT Tutoring

Matt Sheelen does all of our ISEE tutoring, SSAT tutoring, and HSPT tutoring. He has over 15 years of experience helping kids raise their scores on these tricky exams. If your child is applying to a selective private school, Matt can help them perform their best on the entrance exam.

"Matt is a true professional who sincerely cares about his students. My daughter prepared for the ISEE with Matt for several weeks. Not only was Matt cognizant of what was required on the test, but he also provided support and guidance on how to remain positive and focused in the lead up to the test. My daughter really enjoyed her zoom tutoring sessions and Matt was able to effectively conduct all of her sessions online. He used her time well, knew where she had weaknesses and had a clear plan of how to help her improve on weaker areas. I have no hesitation in recommending Matt. We also used Matt for our other daughter who also sat the ISEE two years prior and she was accepted into her first choice school." - Therese Collins (see review on Google Maps)

Matt also offers online ISEE tutoring.

 

Graduate School Personal Statements and Statements of Purpose

It can be hard to condense your life into 500 words! Don't worry - we can help. Lauren Hammond, PhD is our grad school personal statement / statement of purpose expert, and will be happy to give you feedback on your draft or take you from square one to a polished final product that will help your graduate school admissions essay stand out. 

Lauren can help with:

"I highly recommend working with Lauren Hammond, the program's writing specialist, for anyone going through the grad app writing process. Lauren has a real talent for getting you to explicate your experiences. Not to mention she's also a great conversationalist who can get students to talk through the significance of their experiences. In the end, I received admission into my first choice graduate program! Great people, ideas, and strategies. Highly recommend!" - Mohammad Khan (see review on Google Maps)

 

MBA Personal Statements

If you're applying to a top ten MBA program, you know how competitive admissions are going to be. Our expert MBA personal statement advisor Lauren Hammond can work with you to craft an business school application essay that makes you stand out. She has a knack for helping you tell your story and convey your goals in a compelling way, and is incredibly friendly, kind, and easy to work with!

 

Writing Tutoring

Lauren Hammond is our writing specialist, and can help you with anything from essays to papers to cover letters to research writing. Whether you just need some help editing a draft or you're staring at a blank Word doc with no idea where to begin, she's happy to help!

 

AP Pre-Calculus Tutoring

Blake Jensen has been teaching and tutoring pre-calculus for over 15 years, and is available for one-on-one tutoring for AP Pre-Calculus. Whether you're looking for help with the new AP Pre-Calculus course or just the test, Blake is your guy!

 

Higher Scores = More Options

The result of our methods? More efficiency, more student engagement, and more effective test prep, which leads to higher scores and happy clients. We have more 5-star reviews on Yelp and Google than any other local test-prep company.

 

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