*I’ve never written about resources from other instructors. However, my goal is to provide you with support and if I find something that can help, I'll let you know. Also, please be confident that I wouldn’t spread the word about a resource if I didn’t think it could add value to your studies.
Michelle and I met in 2018 when she sent me an email to say hello. She’d noticed that we work on the same thing - helping students improve their scores on the SAT. She also saw that we work on different areas of the SAT. She’s focused on helping students with the Reading Test and I’m focused on the SAT Essay and Writing and Language Tests. Before I even looked at her resources, I was drawn to Michelle for a few reasons - she’s Canadian (more on that later), sincere, and committed. She wants to do right by her students and that came across in her email.
Michelle Rotteau is a proud Canadian from Toronto. This is important. It’s also important to know that she taught in South Korea for many years. Her upbringing in Canada and teaching in a foreign country have given her a unique perspective when it comes to preparing for American university entrance exams. She understands that students without a background in American History and the English language have a unique struggle...and she’s not afraid to say so! She’s not going to give you false hope. She won’t tell you that with a couple of tweaks and strategies on test day, then everything will be fine. Nope. She tells you the truth about the test and gives you practical work to do ahead of time. This forthright lady is an Academic Coach familiar with all things related to getting into college/university. She’s supported students through the SAT, ACT, and college admissions process. She knows the drill.
The Top 5
1. She’s Honest
I appreciate that Michelle isn’t afraid to challenge the recommendations of other test prep resources. She’s current on the latest reading research (yes, she cites research) and combines that with her own teaching experience to challenge what we’ve been told about preparing for the SAT. For example, other resources will tell you that you don’t need any prior knowledge to be successful on the Reading Passages. Well, Michelle questions that (with experience, research, and common sense) and explains why an understanding of history, particularly American History, will positively impact your score. That’s another thing - she’s honest about the SAT’s bias towards the USA. Well, it’s American test, so that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. This slant makes understanding the structure of the English language, vocabulary, and American History so important. Luckily, Michelle provides lessons and strategies to help.
2. Narrow Focus
SAT...Reading Test...Literature...Global Conversations...Social Science...Science. I've seen plenty of prep books that focus on the Reading Test as a whole, but I’d never seen a book that’s dedicated to just one passage type. That’s what Michelle does. Currently, she has two books: Guide to SAT Reading: Literature and Guide to SAT Reading: Global Conversations. I love this. You can save precious time and focus on your area of need. Oh, but the books themselves aren’t “narrow.” Instead, they’re juicy and filled with relevant content and actionable strategies.
3. Books are Cheap
Last I checked, the prices of Michelle’s books were a whopping $3.99 (Global Conversations) or FREE (Literature). I can’t believe she’s selling these resources for next-to-nothing or nothing. I think this speaks to her true mission of helping students. She knows that she’s able to reach so many students online and their financial situations are different. She has provided a way for all students to access her. Awesome. Her books on are Amazon, iBooks, and KOBO.
4. Books are User-Friendly
I’m like you. I have a short attention span and I want to be entertained when I learn. Well, Michelle’s books aren’t going to sing and dance, but they will hold your attention. She doesn’t use teacher pedagogical (irony) words to teach concepts that can be taught with NORMAL language. Also, she weaves in examples and strategies with wit and sarcasm. Why do we have to be so serious? We don’t. Finally, the books are organized and flow logically from one concept to the next.
5. Practical Advice
Here’s the good stuff - she tells you what to do. If you need to improve your vocabulary, she tells you to read the dictionary. No, just kidding. However, she is honest (again) and acknowledges that a bigger vocabulary will help you on the SAT. Then, she gives you practical strategies, reading lists, and links to vocabulary lists. The BEST strategy is actually using her US History Cheat Sheet. Remember when Michelle told us that having prior knowledge of US History is necessary? Well, she doesn’t just wag her finger and leave us to panic. No, she provides 4 chapters of summaries on forms of government, suffrage/women’s rights/education, slavery and civil rights, and worker’s rights. Folks, these chapters, all by themselves, are worth the price of admission. AND, she even provides a link to a timeline where she’s organized the practice/sample SAT passages. This is totally helpful for visual learners to see the passages in the context of time.
Bonus Win: She Analyzes Passages, Questions, and Answers
As if she didn’t give us enough, she also dedicates a huge portion of her books to the analysis of 9 sample and practice SAT passages. For BOTH the Literature and Global Conversations passages, Michelle analyzed the passages by breaking down each paragraph to explain its meaning. Then, she identified each question type - Big Picture or Narrow Focus (or some subtype within). She also analyzed each answer choice and told you why it’s wrong or right. This is really helpful for identifying your strengths (those questions you consistently answer correctly) and weaknesses (questions you consistently get wrong), so that you can focus on areas for improvement. Such a bonus for a motivated learner, like yourself!
Michelle is a gem - go check her out.
For more information on Michelle and her resources, you can find her here https://internationaltester.com/.