When Vince Kotchian teaches test prep, his biggest challenge often is getting his students to overcome their understandable doubts and fears.
Instructor Profile: Vince Kotchian, Test Preparation
“I like to portray standardized tests not as a hardship, but as an opportunity to build valuable life-long skills,” said Kotchian, who instructs a UC San Diego Extension course on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). “The tests aren’t perfect, but it’s a cop-out to say they don’t measure anything worthwhile.”
He specializes in a number of important prep tests, including SAT and ACT — none of which are especially easy, no matter how prepared you happen to be.
“You’re not going to find a lot of people out there who like taking standardized tests,” said Kotchian, author of several test-prep books including two in the “For Dummies” series. “But they’re necessary for admissions in today world.”
As a tutor, he regards his goal as two-fold.
“First, I do everything I can to get my students ready to take the test,” said Kotchian, who’s also a volunteer tutor for foster kids and refugee families in San Diego. “Plus, I always say, Don’t treat the test as a one-off. Treat it as an opportunity to expand your vocabulary and your reading, writing and logic skills — all of which will help you in the future.”
For Kotchian, test prep is a full-time job, one he’s been doing for six years. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in English Literature, he first went into real estate. Upon relocating to San Diego in 2007, he had a revelation: As a strong test-taker himself, he could become a professional tutor.
“I realize it’s a bit of a niche,” he said, “but for me it has become a fulfilling career.”