Video: How SAT / ACT Prep is like the Pizza Industry
The most important factor in SAT / ACT prep is the person teaching you.
Who wants to fight traffic just to get to a tutoring appointment? With the magic of Zoom, we can not only make our San Diego clients' lives easier, but can also work with people all over the country / world!
Typically, online tutoring sessions are either 60 or 90 minutes and can be scheduled weekdays or weekends to accommodate busy schedules. Online tutoring is particularly helpful for athletes and other students with demanding extracurricular schedules.
While it's nice to see someone face to face, online tutoring works just as well:
- We use screen share so we're on the same page
- Tutors can draw on the screen to demonstrate questions
- Shy or anxious students often feel more comfortable working with a tutor online
- Sessions can be recorded for review
The SAT is offered several times through the year; popular test dates are often August and March, and the summer before junior year is often a great time to start SAT prep. We typically work with high school juniors and seniors for online SAT tutoring who are applying to competitive colleges, and our tutors offer all sections of the SAT: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. Most of the time, tutoring begins 10-12 weeks before a certain SAT test date.
Similar to the SAT, the ACT can be taken several times throughout the year, and the most popular test dates are usually September and April. Like our SAT students, ACT test-takers are usually in their junior or senior year of high school and are applying to hard-to-get-into colleges. We offer online ACT tutoring for the entire test: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Like, SAT tutoring, it usually makes sense to begin ACT tutoring 10-12 weeks before a particular ACT test date.
Most people spend 2 or 3 months on GRE prep, and finding an online GRE tutor who is an actual specialist (like Vince, Blake, or Kaitlin) is often more effective than meeting a jack-of-all trades tutor (who tutors 18 different exams) in person! We all cover the entire GRE and offer help with the verbal, math, and essay sections of the test. Our tutors are available for questions and study plan adjustments between meetings so you can make sure you're on track and productive.
In our view, the very most important question for you to ask is this:
"Who, exactly, will be the person teaching me?"
We're probably the most expensive tutors in San Diego. Why? In stark contrast to our competitors who employ a rotating cast of 23-year-olds, our tutors have an average of 10 years of experience. We pay them really well because we only hire tutors who are extremely good at what they do.
One-on-one tutoring, with us, is completely customized to your learning style, personality, and needs.
Talking through the nuances of practice questions not only allows us to explain, in detail, the strategies that work, but that conversation also allows us to see what a student is thinking, ask the right questions to test understanding, and adjust our instruction minute-by-minute.
"What are the benefits of private tutoring?"
- Instruction tailored to your child's learning style, motivation level, and personality
- The opportunity to talk through the nuances of questions with someone with several years of experience with the test
- Homework adjusted to your specific needs
- Accountability and encouragement :)
Private tutoring is simply the most effective and efficient way to raise scores.
Look for each tutor's location and pricing in their bio.
Vince: I grew up in small-town Connecticut and completed the honors program at Boston College, graduating with a B.A. in English Literature. I moved to San Diego in 2007, and I’ve been working full-time as a test-prep tutor ever since. Along the way, I've written some test-prep books and courses, but I still enjoy tutoring, even after 11 years. When a student texts me that she aced the test or got into her reach school, I still literally jump up and down and grin.
In my opinion, conversation is what makes private tutoring so valuable. It lets me focus on what you need most, whether that's content (like understanding math concepts), strategy (like figuring out if a reading comprehension answer choice is right or wrong), timing, or even something like study skills or test-taking skills.
In my spare time, I like traveling using miles and points (Japan is our favorite country to visit), reading (favorite authors include Haruki Murakami, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and Philip Pullman), watching The Great British Bake-Off (and sometimes actually baking things), hiking and camping, and rooting for the Red Sox and Patriots. I live in the Kensington neighborhood with my hilarious wife and our crazy cat.
Vince is only available for online GRE tutoring. If you're interested in working with him, please email us a detailed description of your situation and he'll respond with a quote.
"Working with Vince as a one-on-one tutor was a great experience. Vince was accommodating with scheduling, empathetic about the difficulties of studying for a standardized test during a pandemic, and insightful and helpful when it came to clarifying concepts. Overall, he helped my score improve tremendously, and I went into test day feeling prepared and confident. I highly recommend Vince as a tutor, and I am so glad that I went with his GRE test prep!" - Olivia Lawrence
Matt: I am originally from Hopkinton, Massachusetts - the start of the historic Boston Marathon. I went to college at Northwestern University, where I graduated with a degree in Theatre. After college, I wised up and moved to the warmer coast. I worked in Los Angeles for many years as a full-time SAT / ACT tutor and part-time arts educator.
I have been tutoring for over 10 years and have spent thousands of hours helping students improve their scores. Recently, I moved to San Diego after getting a M.A. in Education from Stanford University, and I currently work as a credentialed classroom teacher.
When I’m not working, I enjoy good books, performing improv comedy, surfing, watching Game of Thrones, and enjoying the charms of San Diego. I live in North Park, where I love to get out and take advantage of all the delicious food in the area. I am also a huge Boston sports fan - the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics are my favorite teams. I usually have something in common with every student - my interests are really diverse!
SAT and ACT tutoring with Matt is $200 an hour ($180 / hour for 10 or more hours). He meets with students online via Zoom, and in person in North Park or Mission Valley. Matt specializes in helping students set and achieve ambitious score goals, as well as helping them build their confidence and test-taking abilities.
Matt also teaches all of our live SAT classes.
"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
Blake: I’m a native San Diegan, father, and an aficionado of basketball, vintage video games, pitchy karaoke, and lecturing my son on how much better Star Wars was "back in the day." I played college basketball at St. Mary’s College and Whittier College, where I earned my B.A. in Psychology in 2002.
Having been a full-time test prep coach for over 13 years, I have seen just about every type of student and tutoring situation. This allows me to give my students exactly what they need to reach their goals.
My years of experience have also led me to coach my students a little differently than most. A lot of test prep revolves around how to answer a question. While that is a necessary component, identifying what is needed to answer a question is at least as important, especially for timed tests like the SAT and ACT. I show my students how to look at the test the way I do, to the patterns and tendencies of the tests to make them faster and more accurate.
Though I still work with students of all types, these days I tend to specialize in students with ambitious score goals.
SAT and ACT tutoring with Blake is $249 / hour (or $224 / hour for 10 or more hours). GRE tutoring is $199 / hour (or $179 / hour for 10 or more hours).
"We cannot say enough about the personalized and professional approach of Blake Jensen and the Vince Kotchian Test Prep team. We opted for the one-on-one tutoring approach for our son, who was able to score in the 99th percentile on his first ACT. They take the time to understand the individual strengths of each student, bolstering those, while working in a positive way to close any gaps based on pre-test results. This enabled our son to enter the test prepared, relaxed, and confident. We have already recommended them to all of our family and friends. Great resource!" - Greg H.
Kaitlin: I am originally from Amarillo, TX, where I developed a love of BBQ, country music, and beautiful sunsets (I can still get about 2 out of 3 of these things in San Diego).
I attended the University of Pennsylvania, and received a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering with minors in Spanish and Nanotechnology. I realized that after seeing tumbleweeds in Texas and snowstorms in Philadelphia, it was time to see the beach a bit more! After a summer of backpacking around the world, I decided to make the leap into teaching. I have now been teaching for six years and have my California teaching credential in chemistry. I have worked at High Tech High Chula Vista, La Jolla Country Day School, and I’m currently teaching at another private school. My passion is making chemistry relevant to my students, and especially connecting my curriculum to current environmental issues.
At the same time I started teaching, I began tutoring the SAT, ACT, and GRE. I use my knowledge of classroom teaching to infuse my tutoring sessions with strategies for students to help improve their scores. I love helping students do well on these tests so that they can shine in other areas of their college applications. I never want a test score to limit a student from their potential dreams and goals.
SAT and ACT tutoring with Kaitlin is $175 per hour ($157.50 / hour for 10 or more hours). GRE tutoring is $149 / hour or $134 / hour for 10 or more hours).
She meets students in person or online.
"Our daughter worked with Matt Sheelen to prepare for the ACT, and she could not have been more pleased. Matt gave her clear strategies to improve in the areas that she needed to most, and, from her 1st practice test to the real test, she raised her score 8 points! She did so well on the actual test the 1st time she took it, that she did not even need to re-take it, as many students choose to do. On top of Matt's expertise, he happens to be a really great guy that relates well to teens (and their parents :-) ). My daughter really enjoyed working with him and we highly recommend him."
- ACT Parent
"My 17 year old daughter used Blake this past summer for a month to help her improve her SAT scores for college admittance. Blake thoroughly trained her for the test and she felt prepared going in on text day. Her scores went up 200 points with Blake's fantastic tutoring help. She got a 1250 and is thrilled. Blake is worth every penny of your time. Thank you again."
- SAT Parent
"My daughter worked with Bronte D’Acquisto for about two months to prepare for her SAT and ACT. Bronte’s help was invaluable! She assessed where Fiona’s strong points and weak points were on both tests, and worked to improve on the weak points. They offered proctored practice tests so you can take the test in a testing situation, which I highly recommend. My daughter got exceptional scores on both tests on the first attempt, and I think Bronte’s focused tutoring made all the difference. Thank you!!"
- ACT Parent
"(Student) and I will always be grateful to you, Vince, for all the support and guidance you provided to him which enabled him to do amazing on his SAT. He was also thrilled that he only had to take it one time. I will admit, getting private SAT tutoring was definitely a sacrifice...especially being both a single mom and a teacher, but it was honestly the absolute BEST investment. His GPA is not very high, so I know his SAT score really helped him, not only with being admitted to every school he applied to, but also with the merit scholarships he earned. They offered him a guaranteed slot into their direct entry doctor of physical therapy program as well as a full-tuition scholarship beginning freshman year and continuing until the completion of his doctoral program."
- SAT Parent, The Bishop's School