Over 700 tutoring hours

Michael E.

Arcadia, CA


Expert English Tutor: SAT, ACT, Writing, Grammar, Reading, & Vocab

In-person lessons
Background check passed as of 1/18/15
4.9 average from 132 ratings
Very Patient
— Amy, Alhambra, CA on 6/3/14

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Houghton College, Houghton NY
Communication - Writing minor
Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA


Houghton College, Houghton NY (Communication - Writing minor)

Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA (Master's)

About Michael

My students improve their writing confidence and increase their test scores.

I am ready to help you prepare for the English sections of the ACT, the current SAT (for seniors until January 2016), and the Redesigned SAT test (starting March 2016).

For the past two decades, I’ve honed my skills as a professional writer, editor, and English tutor in the US and overseas. As a full time tutor since 2003, I have helped hundreds of San Gabriel Valley area students improve their writing skills and significantly raise their SAT, PSAT, and ACT scores. During that time, I have developed and fine-tuned my own test preparation strategies without the use of question-skipping or guessing tricks.

If you need to improve your English, writing, and critical thinking skills, I will help you do it by focusing on your strengths and without judging your past efforts. Instead, I will assess your current skills and then activate a personalized plan based on what you already know combined with new knowledge and critical thinking skills. Each lesson is connected to a larger plan, preparing you for English success in the next school year, on the SAT, in college, and beyond!

My Students -- I have tutored students between the ages of five and seventy-one, representing every level of academics, including PhD. Most of my students are between 8th and 12th grade. They have been from Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, and Taiwan. Many have been accepted into top universities like Princeton, Dartmouth, USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. Several have earned distinctions and honors, competitive internships, and graduate degrees as well as careers in medicine, engineering, and law.
My students improve their writing confidence and increase their test scores.

I am ready to help you prepare for the English sections of the ACT, the current
Read more

16 hours notice required

Possible reduced rates for long-term students; multiple students; or multiple weekly lessons. Cancelling (without rescheduling) on the day of a prearranged lesson : $30 fee.

Travel Radius
Travels within 6 miles of Arcadia, CA 91006
Background Check: Passed
In-person lessons

"Very Patient"

- Amy, Alhambra, CA on 6/3/14

"Great ACT English Tutor"

- Angela, Temple City, CA on 3/10/15

"Very helpful and patient"

- Jane, Pasadena, CA on 2/1/15

"Great Tutor!"

- Sylvia, Temple City, CA on 1/30/15

"Great Tutor!"

- Jose, Sierra Madre, CA on 12/1/14

"Best teacher"

- Nicole, Arcadia, CA on 5/20/14

"Awesome Tutor!"

- Remmy, Sylmar, CA on 2/2/14

"Great tutor!"

- Ximena, Alhambra, CA on 1/24/14

"Best tutor I had so far. Teaches in a very understanding and caring way."

- Le, San Gabriel, CA on 11/11/13

"Michael is a great tutor and very qualified"

- Ilia, Glendale, CA on 6/10/13

"Personable Tutor!"

- Christy, Arcadia, CA on 11/28/12

"Great tutor"

- Sanjeev, Arcadia, CA on 10/8/12

"Very wise and productive..."

- David, Newport Beach, CA on 1/9/12
ACT English,
ACT Reading, English,
Literature, Proofreading,
SAT Reading,
SAT Writing,
TOEFL, Vocabulary,
ACT Science
American History,
Government & Politics, Social Studies
Elementary Education:
Study Skills,
Special Needs:
Test Preparation:
ACT English,
ACT Reading, ACT Science, College Counseling,
SAT Reading,
SAT Writing,

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.

ACT English

While I am primarily an SAT English tutor with a decade of successful experience, I also help a few ACT students each year. My students raise their scores by learning the grammar rules and learning to notice those patterns in every sentence. They also learn how to structure and develop an essay quickly.

It's important to note that while the formats of the two tests are different, the basic approaches are the same. There are more "English" (Writing) and fewer (Critical) Reading multiple choice questions on the ACT than on the SAT. Vocabulary is not as much of an issue on the ACT and some people find the essays easier.

I will help you self-assess and then help you carefully determine if the ACT or the SAT is better for you. Depending on your skills and personality, you may even benefit from taking both tests. No matter what decision you make, I can help you set goals and achieve scores that will show colleges that you are a serious student.

American History

Although history is not my primary expertise, I have loved American history since I was a boy, so I am a lifelong history student. More importantly, I've developed an excellent set of study skills based on the use of a timeline and critical thinking. I've used this method to help many Honors and AP History students acquire, connect, and remember historical events in a time efficient way. So, if you are a diligent student, my skills may be enough to help you improve. However, most history students hire me as a writing tutor to help them structure and write a history project or prepare for an in-class history essay test.

College Counseling

As an educated Writing and SAT tutor for the past decade, college counseling is part of my job. Every summer and autumn, I help several college-bound seniors develop their "personal statement" essays. In most of these cases, I've coached the students through the process of selecting colleges, collecting personal information to present, and completing the application process. But the main thing I do well is counseling students through the essay-writing process.

Many students don't realize that this process should begin long before they begin filling out their applications because the best essays require several drafts and there are often several different essays to write for the different colleges.

Another misconception is that the colleges read the essays much like a high school teacher who is grading them. But that is not true. The college essay is actually the primary media through which the student is able to show their unique qualities that can't be easily communicated elsewhere in the application. These essays may involve describing a student's passions, most influential mentors, or future hopes and dreams.

I can help you write yours to your highest potential.


My English tutoring services cover all areas: literature and literary terms, reading comprehension, vocabulary development, grammar, and every kind of writing structure assigned in school. I offer approaches for everyone from nervous beginners to competitive A+ students. Generally, 4th-7th grade students need help with grammar, book reports, summary writing, and persuasive essays. Those in 8th & 9th need help making the transition to critical thinking and advanced writing. By 10th grade, students are concerned with deeper conceptual literary analysis and timed writing in class as well as on the SAT and AP tests. And college students often need to brush up on their rusty English skills from high school.


My ESL and intercultural training began more than 20 years ago in college. As part of my Communication major (Writing minor), I received excellent training in Linguistics and Intercultural Communication courses. After college I spent a year overseas where I both taught ESL and learned a second language. My ESL tutoring expertise is primarily focused on developing conversational skills, improving speaking skills, and helping with homework assignments. Normally, I help students with sets of language skills at the same time. For example, while I help students improve their writing, I may also ask them to read their work out loud in order to help them improve their speaking skills. The best way to understand how my techniques work is to schedule a lesson. You will know if I am the right tutor for you after one lesson together.


Grammar is puzzling for most people, but I take the mystery out of it. I patiently break down the complexities, making connections to what my students already know about.

Over the past 10 years, I have developed a unique plan for simple grammar analysis that anyone can use. It helps math-oriented students make sense of grammar and gives language-oriented students an easy system for checking their work. Best of all, it is geared toward preparation for standardized English tests like the SAT.

But a grammar system isn't enough. For each concept, I go far beyond a one-time lesson in a grammar book: I briefly review it during future lessons to emphasize how all grammar works together. For younger students, I've made this process into games; for teens and adults, I've created a variety of practice materials designed to engage students with different personalities. Of course, I also adjust my lessons to whatever each student is presently studying or struggling with in school.


I have helped several students successfully prepare for the ISEE. Some of the biggest issues that my students have faced were: (1) learning new vocabulary words, (2) conquering their nerves about the timed writing section, and (3) reading directions carefully for each section. To respond to these and other issues, I use the expert test prep strategies I've developed while preparing students for the SSAT, PSAT, and SAT. Feel free to ask me any specific questions by email.


My students have needed phonics training for a variety of reasons. Some have struggled with certain sound ranges like S/Z/Sh or T/D/Th. Others may have been born in a non-English-speaking culture or been raised by non-native speakers. My approaches to these things are based in sound linguistic principles, which I began studying in college courses. Our mouths are like musical instruments that play different notes from different positions based on the airflow and physical manipulations. Part of phonics training is to help students HEAR the sound they need to make and then understand what they can do with their mouths to make it. Sometimes, an intercultural student needs my help in differentiating an English sound from one in their own language sound system. This is the personalized work I do with my phonics students.


My editing career began as the middle school newspaper editor in mid-1980s. In college, I was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. For the past fifteen years, I've been a writing coach and editor for many graduate students, professors, and authors as they publish their theses, dissertations, books, and other academic manuscripts. In other words, I have been doing this work for most of my life. When you contact me, I can assess your project and provide you with editing services at different levels--from brief consultation to basic proofreading to comprehensive editing. I can also serve as your writing coach or ESL language helper. Most importantly, I will help you complete your project on deadline!


The October 2015 PSAT will feature the "Redesigned SAT" format. I have carefully reviewed the new format and question types, and reworked my tutoring materials accordingly. Right now, I am 100% ready to help you prepare for a successful PSAT experience. Using my time-tested strategies and materials, I have helped hundreds of students prepare for the PSAT and SAT since 2013. In short, while I help you prepare for the PSAT, I will already be helping you prepare for the SAT. **FOR MORE INFORMATION, please read my SAT profile and contact me for a preliminary assessment lesson.


Reading and Reading Comprehension assessments in school assume that all students of the same grade should be reading with the same maturity development, learning styles, and communication styles. Talented school teachers are unfortunately forced to teach, assess, and quickly move on to the next lesson while using their classroom expertise to keep all the students on pace. Of course, students of a variety of styles may not be able to learn at the same pace. As a result, many of my students feel anxiety about their reading grades. That's why I use a personalized approach with both short-term and long-term goals for achieving official reading standards. As an expert SAT English test-prep tutor, I have developed successful reading and reading comprehension approaches in response to hundreds of grade school, middle school, and high school students I've tutored over the years. My lesson plans focus on achieving current grade-level goals while continually reviewing past lessons and previewing future lessons to develop long-term confidence and competency. My daily job is to patiently support the reading lessons taught by your child's school teachers in order to help your child integrate the lessons for personal success through every grade and into college.

SAT Reading

Over the past 10 years, I have helped 200+ students at every level improve their SAT Critical Reading scores. Several of my students have even scored in the high-700 range. I have developed my own SAT English Critical Reading approaches and materials that are designed to help students develop their thinking skills in a way that actually prepares them for college. To do this, I have studied every detail of more than 25 real SAT tests, including the SAT from October 2011, so I know the question patterns as well as I the roads I drive in my own neighborhood.

Did you know that there is no “vocabulary section” anywhere on the SAT? In fact, less than 20% of the Critical Reading section involves choosing from a list of “SAT Vocabulary” words? The “fill in the blank” section (which is mistakenly nicknamed “the vocab section”) is really a “context section” in which students must read sentences with blanks in the middle and select words that best fit. Of course, I help students develop excellent vocabulary acquisition skills, but it’s actually not necessary to learn hundreds or thousands of new words to do well on the Critical Reading section. I will explain more when we work together.

The biggest complaint I hear is that “the Critical Reading passages are too long and boring.” So, I guide students through a process of “creating interest” to keep their minds alert. While showing students the common question patterns, I patiently break down the complexities, making connections to what my students already know about. I teach them that all good thinking starts with questions. My lessons are personalized to match each student's personal thinking strengths and preferences. Along the way, I guide each student through a self-assessment of what is working for them and what is not.

I will not judge you for your past work, but I will push you to develop an awareness of your strengths in order to do your best work now. The genius is in the little disciplines.

SAT Writing

Most students can become stressed about SAT grammar questions and timed essays. Over the years, I have developed my own SAT English Writing approaches and materials to calm the anxiety and bring out a student's best work. I have studied every detail of more than 25 real SAT tests, including the real SAT from October 2011, so I know the patterns as well as I know the rooms of my own house.

Grammar is puzzling, but I take the mystery out of it. I patiently break down the complexities, making connections to what my students already know about. Over the past decade, I have developed and published a unique plan for simple grammar analysis. It helps math-oriented students make sense of grammar and gives language-oriented students a system for checking their work.

But SAT students also face the challenge of writing an effective essay within 25 minutes, so I have also developed an essay plan that is personalized to match each student's writing strengths. The hallmark is real practice with timed essay-writing drills after which I guide each student through a self-assessment of what is working and what is not.

I have helped more than 200 students improve their SAT Writing scores. I've worked with students who suddenly realized in 11th grade that they need help on the SAT and others who had already shown potential for a 700 score and wanted to get to the next level.

Your SAT mistakes will become opportunities. I will not judge you for your past work, but I will push you to develop an awareness of your strengths in order to do your best work now. The genius is in the little disciplines.


Spelling is a lot more of a visual skill than most people realize. Most of us just look at word as a jumble of letters and don't actually LOOK at the lines (letters), so we can't tell some words apart. I use visual techniques to help students of every age create a simple habit that makes them better spellers with bigger vocabularies. The goal is to actively SEE each letter and then VISUALIZE the group of letters as an object (word), even before understanding the meaning. With smaller children, I do this in a playful way that helps them feel rewarded for small successes. Later when they encounter a familiar word/object on a test, they can visualize it to remember the spelling. Reinforcing this habit early is the key to success. However, high school students are better prepared to understand why this habit produces life-long results. Gaining a large SAT vocabulary begins with quickly being able to tell words apart as visual objects. This also helps them recognize root word families. The meanings can then be added to the words/objects in a permanent way. This spelling habit only seems complicated because of it's simplicity.

Study Skills

The genius is in the simple disciplines. Most students WANT good study skills, but they also want to do other activities that may be competing for their time. What most students don't know is that while study skills take time to form, they eventually become easy and that self-discipline creates freedom for other activities. I teach them to "work hard to play hard AND play hard to work hard." My strong, but patient approach toward study skills begins with locating the things a student already does well without realizing it and helping him or her do those things consciously in the future. Meanwhile, to build new habits, my students use a scientific approach of practicing a new habit every day for three weeks. This is basically the natural way we all learned to tie our shoes. After a few weeks, our shoe-tying discipline gave us freedom from needing help from others. I have many devices and tools to help each student personalize their new study habits, including agendas and check-in systems. As an English tutor, I'm particularly skilled at helping students work through writing procrastination or new vocabulary avoidance. The best way to find out if I can help is begin working with me to see if we are a good fit. Email me with any specific questions.


I am an expert SAT Reading and Writing tutor, and quite often, I work with middle school students all the way to their SAT and college applications. Over the past decade, I have developed my own advanced SAT vocabulary acquisition approaches and found very useful materials that can be easily found online. These are the lessons I teach my high school SAT students. Primarily, I use these lessons for 11th graders who become discouraged about vocabulary as the SAT date approaches. However, I have observed the value of teaching my approach to middle school students to help them form life-long habits that essentially make "Vocab" the least of their academic worries. My approach will free you up to work on other important skills like reading, writing, and critical thinking. If studying new vocabulary is a primary concern for you, let's work together and get this issue out of the way, permanently.


Writing is my primary discipline, and tutoring is my primary work. In other words, I am not just a writing tutor: I am an educated writer with 20 years of professional experience, including a decade as a full-time tutor and editor. My students hire me for short-term coaching or long-term skills development. My lessons are student-centered. I specialize in explaining grammar and writing strategies in a way that makes sense to the student. Most importantly, I challenge each student to reach the next level according to his or her ability, not according to some pre-defined chart. Though I don't waste time getting to the point, I am also patient and persistent because I know it takes time to develop solid writing skills. As a result of my tutoring, my students not only reach their current goals, but also apply their new-found skills to a variety of future assignments: from story summaries to persuasion papers; from fiction book reports to factual research papers; from to high school poetry analysis essays to college application personal statements; from AP English compositions to PhD dissertations. I can help you set and meet your writing goals. Whether you simply struggle with writing or have actually become discouraged, let's start again so that you can develop your writing confidence.

Houghton College, Houghton NY
Communication - Writing minor
Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA


Houghton College, Houghton NY (Communication - Writing minor)

Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA (Master's)

Very Patient — Michael helped me with my GRE essay. Since I did not grow up in the US, I have not received much training in writing. Michael very patiently and systematically taught me how to organize my thoughts and present them on paper. My writing has been improved in a relatively short period of time. ...

— Amy, Alhambra, CA on 6/3/14

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $60.00

Cancellation: 16 hours notice required

Possible reduced rates for long-term students; multiple students; or multiple weekly lessons. Cancelling (without rescheduling) on the day of a prearranged lesson : $30 fee.

Travel policy

Michael will travel within 6 miles of Arcadia, CA 91006.

Background Check Status for Michael E.

Michael E. passed a background check on 1/18/15. The check was ordered by Michael through First Advantage. For more information, please review the background check information page.

After sending a message to Michael, you will be able to order a new background check for $7.99. As part of your tutor selection process, we encourage you to run updated background checks. Please also review the safety tips for hiring tutors.