SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Complete List: Which Colleges Require ACT Writing? 100+ Schools

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | Jan 1, 2019 12:00:00 PM

ACT General Info, ACT Writing

 

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You’ve just signed up for the ACT. But did you know that there is an optional Writing test for the ACT? More importantly, do you know if your dream schools require or recommend this ACT section?

Check out our regularly updated list of schools to find out if the Writing ACT is worth your time and money. We'll then give you our top tips for acing the ACT Writing section.

 

What Is the ACT Writing Test?

The ACT Writing test is an optional essay test you can take immediately after the other sections of the ACT. It costs an additional $16.50 and 40 minutes of your time. It's available to take after the ACT on all seven national testing dates in the USA.

Keep in mind when deciding to take it or not that you cannot just take the ACT Writing test on its own—you can only take it while suitably exhausted after taking all the other ACT sections!

The writing test is meant to measure the writing skills you should have learned in your English classes throughout high school. It also claims to be a measure of how you might do in entry-level composition classes in college.

So, what exactly is the test like? First, you'll be given a prompt that tells you about an issue. You will also be presented with three possible points of view on this topic. You then must write an essay on your point of view. You can either borrow and elaborate on one of the ones provided, or offer up a fourth viewpoint. (Sound tough? See this article for some top ACT Essay strategies.)

Your ACT Writing score (which is scored on a scale of 2-12) is not part of your composite ACT score (out of 36), which consists only of your English, Math, Reading, and Science scores. Instead, your essay score is added to your English and Reading scores and then averaged to give you what is called an English Language Arts (ELA) score.

Read our guide for a full breakdown of how the ACT is scored.

 

Why Do Schools Require ACT Writing?

You might be surprised to learn that not all schools require the ACT Writing test!

But those that do require it think they have a pretty good reason to do so. These schools think that your essay score, combined with your English and Reading ACT scores, can help them understand your grasp of English and your ability to produce a sample of writing under pressure.

This is quite a different skill compared to what they see when you submit your personal statement and other essays in your applications. They are assuming that those have been proofread by 50 of your closest friends and family members, and that they have been heavily edited and reviewed for hours on end.

So while your personal statement is more like a heavily photoshopped selfie in flattering lighting, ACT Writing is more like a candid snapshot of your writing abilities.

 

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Specifically, these colleges want to get a better idea of your reasoning skills and your ability to defend a point of view. Can you write logically and coherently? Can you use proper sentence structure without Microsoft Word telling you what you've done wrong? The Writing Test is your chance to prove you have all these skills.

Apart from your application, the combined English Language Arts score has another use for many schools. For example, colleges might use your score to help place you in different levels of English classes. So this could potentially save you the trouble of having to take a placement test once you arrive at college in the fall!

 

What Kind of Colleges Require ACT Writing?

Now then, what colleges actually require ACT Writing? The answer to this question might surprise you! Read on to learn which schools require the Writing section of the ACT—and which don't.

 

Fact Check: Not All Top Schools Require ACT Writing

Perhaps surprisingly, not all top-ranked colleges and universities require ACT Writing. Top schools that do not require the ACT Writing test include Columbia, Penn, Princeton, Brown, and Cornell.

However, other elite schools, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Caltech, and Dartmouth, all require it. Top public colleges, including the UC system, University of Michigan, and University of Texas, require it as well.

So if you're aiming high, you might want to take ACT Writing!

 

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Do Top Journalism, Humanities, and English Programs Require ACT Writing?

Some do, but there are a few notable exceptions to this. Pepperdine and George Washington University, which are known as great journalism schools, do not require ACT Writing (though the latter recommends it).

Similarly, Georgetown and the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts offer great English degrees and do not require the ACT with Writing.

Hamilton College in New York, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Iowa, and Colorado College all have great writing programs and do not require the Writing ACT.

Several well-known, smaller liberal arts colleges do not require (although they might recommend) the ACT with Writing; these include Amherst, Bowdoin, Pomona, Haverford, and Davidson College.

Finally, the University of Chicago is great all around for humanities and does not require it.

 

Do Top Technical/Math/Science Schools Require ACT Writing?

Despite what you might expect, a number of the top tech/math/science schools do require the ACT Writing, including Caltech and the University of Michigan.

 

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Yes, tech schools also care about your writing ability.

 

Why Should You Care About ACT Writing?

Below, we've broken down by state and territory every college that either requires or recommends the ACT Plus Writing. 

Keep in mind that although you don't have to take the ACT with Writing, unless you want to apply to a college on the list below, you still have the option to if you wish.

You can usually submit the Writing test to colleges even if they don't require it. By doing this, you allow them to consider your essay along with the rest of your application. Some schools will treat ACT Writing as equally important to the other ACT sections, whereas others will give it less weight.

But the bottom line is this: a strong Writing score will almost always help you out. If you opt to take the test and score well on it, it could be a great way to enhance your application and give you an edge!

Fortunately, this is a real possibility because just like every other part of the ACT, the essay can be taught so that you can excel on it. So if you're thinking of taking the ACT Plus Writing, either because you have to or because you just want that extra bright point in your application, it is definitely worth your time to study and practice so that you can master the ACT Essay.

Another point: you might change your mind about what colleges you want to apply to, and that is another reason it's a good idea to take the ACT Plus Writing. If your plans change, you don't want to have to retake the whole ACT just because you didn't think ahead!

 


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Full List of Colleges That Require ACT Writing

This comprehensive list of four-year universities is broken down by state.

The first colleges in each section are those that require the Writing ACT; these are then followed by schools that recommend it. Recommend means that the college doesn't require it, but that scoring well on it will improve the strength of your application and help you reach equal footing with other applicants who do take it.

To find your favorite schools, either scroll down to the state in which they're located or use ctrl+F to search for a specific school name.

Keep in mind that school requirements frequently change (especially with the recent rise in test-optional admissions), so it's always a good idea to check with individual schools before you apply.

All data comes from the official ACT, Inc. website.

 

ALABAMA

Recommended:

  • Alabama A&M University
  • Alabama State University
  • Auburn University
  • Miles College
  • Oakwood University
  • Spring Hill College
  • Troy University
  • University of Alabama

 

ALASKA

Recommended:

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks

 

ARIZONA

Recommended:

  • Grand Canyon University
  • University of Arizona

 

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Grand Canyon University, Arizona

 

ARKANSAS

Recommended:

  • Crowley's Ridge College
  • Hendrix College
  • John Brown University

 

CALIFORNIA

Required:

  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Chapman University
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Golden State Baptist College
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Occidental College
  • Patten University
  • Scripps College
  • Soka University of America
  • Stanford University
  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Los Angeles
  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside
  • UC San Diego
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • University of La Verne
  • Westmont College

 

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University of California at Berkeley

 

Recommended:

  • California Christian College
  • California Lutheran University
  • California Polytechnic State University  San Luis Obispo
  • California State University  Bakersfield
  • California State University Northridge
  • Cogswell Polytechnical College
  • Columbia College Hollywood
  • Dominican University of California
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising  Los Angeles
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising — San Francisco
  • Fresno Pacific University
  • Holy Names University
  • NewSchool of Architecture & Design
  • Oak Valley College
  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Pomona College
  • Providence Christian College
  • San Diego Christian College
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  • University of Northern California
  • University of Redlands
  • Whittier College
  • William Jessup University

 

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Pepperdine is one university that neither requires nor recommends ACT Writing

 

COLORADO

Recommended:

  • Art Institute of Colorado
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Johnson & Wales University — Denver
  • Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design
  • University of Colorado — Colorado Springs

 

CONNECTICUT

Required:

  • United States Coast Guard Academy
  • Yale University

 

Recommended:

  • Lincoln College of New England
  • New England Baptist College
  • Post University
  • Trinity College — Connecticut
  • University of Bridgeport
  • University of Connecticut

 

DELAWARE

Required:

  • Delaware State University

 

Recommended:

  • University of Delaware

 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Recommended:

  • George Washington University
  • Howard University
  • Trinity (Washington) University
  • University of the District of Columbia

 

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American University does NOT require the ACT Writing

 

FLORIDA

Required:

  • Florida A&M University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida International University
  • Trinity Baptist College

 

Recommended:

  • Ave Maria University
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • College of Central Florida
  • Emmaus Baptist College
  • Florida Baptist College — Tampa
  • Florida College
  • Hobe Sound Bible College
  • Johnson & Wales University  North Miami
  • Keiser University  Pembroke Pines
  • Naaleh College
  • Palm Beach Atlantic University
  • Reformation Bible College
  • Rollins College
  • Saint Leo University
  • University of Tampa
  • Webber International University
  • Whitefield College & Theological Seminary

 

GEORGIA

Required:

  • Georgia Southern University
  • Morris Brown College

 

Recommended:

  • Berry College
  • Covenant College
  • Fort Valley State University
  • Morehouse College
  • Oglethorpe University
  • Toccoa Falls College
  • University of West Georgia

 

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Emory University used to recommend ACT Writing but now does NOT

 

HAWAII

Required:

  • University of Hawaii at Manoa

 

Recommended:

  • Hawaii Pacific University
  • O.P. Jindal Global University

 

IDAHO

Recommended:

  • Boise Bible College
  • New Saint Andrews College

 

ILLINOIS

Required:

  • Morthland College
  • Northwestern University
  • St. Joseph College Seminary
  • VanderCook College of Music

 

Recommended:

  • Benedictine University
  • Christian Life College
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • DanEL Christian College
  • East-West University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Greenville College
  • Lake Forest College
  • Lincoln Christian University
  • Loyola University of Chicago
  • Methodist College of Nursing
  • National Louis University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Robert Morris University
  • Southern Illinois University — Carbondale
  • University of Illinois — Chicago

 

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View of the Loop from University of Illinois Chicago campus

 

INDIANA

Required:

  • Fairhaven College
  • Indiana University East

 

Recommended:

  • American Conservatory of Music
  • Anderson University
  • Art Institute of Indianapolis
  • Crossroads Bible College
  • Franklin College
  • Holy Cross College
  • Huntington University
  • Indiana State University
  • Indiana University Kokomo
  • Indiana University Southeast
  • Indiana University — Purdue University at Columbus
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
  • Purdue University
  • Purdue University — North Central
  • Taylor University
  • Union Bible College
  • University of Evansville
  • University of Indianapolis
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Southern Indiana
  • Valparaiso University
  • Wabash College

 

body_notredame.jpg University of Notre Dame 

 

IOWA

Recommended:

  • Ashford University
  • Divine Word College
  • Faith Baptist Bible College
  • Grand View University
  • Iowa Wesleyan College
  • Mercy College of Health Sciences
  • Morningside College

 

KANSAS

Recommended:

  • Barclay College
  • Haskell Indian Nations University
  • Kansas City College and Bible School
  • McPherson College

 

KENTUCKY

Required:

  • Louisville Bible College
  • Simmons College of Kentucky

 

Recommended:

  • Campbellsville University
  • Centre College
  • Northern Kentucky University

 

LOUISIANA

Recommended:

  • Louisiana State University A&M — Baton Rouge
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Our Lady of the Lake College
  • Tulane University
  • World Evangelism Bible College
  • Xavier University

 

You never know where Mike the Tiger is going to show up at LSU (Derek Jensen/Flickr)

 

MAINE

Recommended:

  • Colby College
  • Husson University
  • Maine Maritime Academy
  • University of Maine at Fort Kent
  • University of Maine
  • University of New England
  • University of Southern Maine

 

MARYLAND

Required:

  • Washington Adventist University

 

Recommended:

  • Antietam Bible College
  • Maryland Institute College of Art

 

MASSACHUSETTS

Required:

  • Harvard College
  • Springfield College
  • Wellesley College

 

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Harvard campus

 

Recommended:

  • Amherst College
  • Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  • Bay Path University
  • Becker College
  • Bridgewater State University
  • Elms College
  • Emerson College
  • Endicott College
  • Lesley University
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacology and Health Sciences
  • Massachusetts Maritime Academy
  • Mount Ida College
  • Northpoint Bible College
  • Regis College
  • Simmons College
  • UMass Amherst
  • UMass Boston
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology

 

MICHIGAN

Required:

  • College for Creative Studies
  • University of Michigan — Ann Arbor

 

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University of Michigan

 

Recommended:

  • Andrews University
  • Baker College Online
  • Baker College at Allen Park
  • Central Michigan University
  • Cleary University
  • Compass College of Cinematic Arts
  • Concordia University — Ann Arbor
  • Cornerstone University
  • Grace Baptist College
  • Grace Bible College
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Great Lakes Christian College
  • Madonna University
  • Sacred Heart Major Seminary
  • Spring Arbor University
  • University of Michigan — Flint

 

MINNESOTA

Required:

  • University of Minnesota  Rochester

 

Recommended:

  • Augsburg University
  • Bethany Lutheran College
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hamline University
  • Martin Luther College
  • McNally Smith College of Music
  • University of Minnesota — Morris
  • University of Minnesota  Twin Cities
  • University of Northwestern  St. Paul

 

MISSISSIPPI

None

 

MISSOURI

Required:

  • Urshan College

 

Recommended:

  • Baptist Bible College
  • College of the Ozarks
  • Drury University
  • Logan University
  • Missouri Baptist University
  • St. Louis Christian College
  • Webster University
  • William Jewell College

 

MONTANA

Required:

  • University of Montana Western

 

Recommended:

  • Carroll College
  • Montana State University  Bozeman
  • Montana State University — Northern
  • Montana Tech of the University of Montana
  • University of Montana
  • University of Providence
  • Yellowstone Christian College

 

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University of Montana Western wins most dramatic campus location

 

NEBRASKA

Recommended:

  • Saint Gregory the Great Seminary
  • Summit Christian College
  • Union College
  • York College

 

NEVADA

Recommended:

  • Art Institute of Las Vegas
  • Western Nevada Community College

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Required:

  • Dartmouth College

 

Recommended:

  • Keene State College
  • New Hampshire Institute of Art
  • Northeast Catholic College
  • Plymouth State University
  • Saint Anselm College

 

NEW JERSEY

Required:

  • Seton Hall University

 

Recommended:

  • Caldwell University
  • Centenary College
  • Rider University
  • Rutgers  State University of New Jersey

 

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Princeton used to require ACT Writing but now does not—lucky you!

 

NEW MEXICO

Recommended:

  • University of the Southwest

 

NEW YORK

Required:

  • Barnard College — Columbia University
  • CUNY  John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Concordia College
  • Five Towns College
  • List College  Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Molloy College
  • Pratt Institute
  • Siena College
  • SUNY College at Old Westbury
  • SUNY Maritime College
  • United States Military Academy (West Point)
  • University at Buffalo  SUNY
  • Vassar College

 

Recommended:

  • Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Bar-Ilan University
  • Binghamton University  SUNY
  • CUNY  Medgar Evers College
  • Canisius College
  • College of New Rochelle
  • Cooper Union
  • Culinary Institute of America
  • Dominican College
  • Farmingdale State College
  • Globe Institute of Technology
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Iona College
  • King's College
  • Mercy College
  • Morrisville State College
  • New York Institute of Technology
  • Parsons The New School for Design
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • St. John’s University
  • SUNY College at Buffalo
  • Stony Brook University — SUNY
  • Touro College
  • Webb Institute of Naval Architecture
  • Wells College

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Required:

  • Duke University
  • Elizabeth City State University
  • Elon University
  • Fayetteville State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Queens University of Charlotte
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts
  • Western Carolina University
  • Winston-Salem State University

 

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The chapel at Duke University

 

Recommended:

  • Barber-Scotia College
  • Bennett College
  • Brevard College
  • Davidson College
  • East Carolina University
  • Grace Baptist Bible College
  • Johnson & Wales University  Charlotte
  • Laurel University
  • Mars Hill University
  • North Carolina State University at Raleigh
  • North Carolina Wesleyan College
  • Salem College
  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke

 

NORTH DAKOTA

Recommended:

  • Dickinson State University
  • Mayville State University
  • Trinity Bible College

 

OHIO

Required:

  • God’s Bible School and College
  • Lake Erie College

 

Recommended:

  • Allegheny Wesleyan College
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Cedarville University
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • College of Wooster
  • Columbus College of Art and Design
  • Heidelberg University
  • John Carroll University
  • Kent State University  Salem
  • Kent State University  Stark
  • Kent State University  Trumbull
  • Miami University  Middletown
  • Mount St. Joseph University
  • Ohio University  Athens
  • Ohio Wesleyan University
  • South University  Cleveland
  • Tiffin University
  • University of Rio Grande
  • University of Toledo
  • Urbana University
  • Ursuline College
  • Walsh University
  • Wilberforce University

 

OKLAHOMA

Required:

  • East Central University

 

Recommended:

  • Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College
  • Oklahoma Wesleyan University
  • Saint Gregory’s University
  • Spartan School of Aeronautics

 

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I wonder if you can still send this in?

 

OREGON

Required:

  • Oregon State University
  • Portland State University

 

Recommended:

  • Corban University
  • Western Oregon University
  • Willamette University

 

PENNSYLVANIA

Required:

  • Arcadia University
  • Lafayette College
  • Muhlenberg College
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
  • York College of Pennsylvania

 

Recommended:

  • Bryn Athyn College
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Central Penn College
  • Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
  • Delaware Valley University
  • Elizabethtown College
  • Gettysburg College
  • Gwynedd Mercy University
  • Holy Family University
  • Lancaster Bible College
  • Lehigh University
  • Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
  • Lycoming College
  • Messiah College
  • Millersville University of Pennsylvania
  • Rosemont College
  • Saint Francis University
  • Seton Hill University
  • Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
  • Waynesburg University

 

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May Day at Bryn Mawr

 

RHODE ISLAND

Required:

  • Rhode Island College
  • Rhode Island School of Design

 

Recommended:

  • Johnson & Wales University — Providence

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

Required:

  • University of South Carolina  Columbia

 

Recommended:

  • American College of the Building Arts
  • Charleston Southern University
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • College of Charleston
  • Furman University
  • Lander University
  • North Greenville University
  • South Carolina State University
  • Southern Methodist College
  • University of South Carolina — Aiken
  • Voorhees College

 

SOUTH DAKOTA

Recommended:

  • Black Hills State University

 

TENNESSEE

 

Recommended:

  • Bethel University
  • Carson-Newman University
  • Cumberland University
  • Fisk University
  • Lincoln Memorial University
  • Martin Methodist College
  • Memphis College of Art
  • Mid-South Christian College
  • O'More College of Design
  • Tennessee State University
  • University of the South

 

TEXAS

Required:

  • Hardin-Simmons University
  • Paul Quinn College
  • Southwest School of Art
  • St. Edward’s University
  • Stephen F. Austin State University
  • Tarleton State University
  • University of Dallas
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Texas at Dallas

 

body_texasam.jpg

Welcome!

 

Recommended:

  • Abilene Christian University
  • Arlington Baptist College
  • Art Institute of Houston
  • Austin College
  • Dallas Christian College
  • Huston-Tillotson University
  • Jarvis Christian College
  • McMurry University
  • Messenger College
  • Mexican American Catholic College
  • North American College
  • Schreiner University
  • Southwestern Assemblies of God University
  • Texas A&M International University
  • Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi
  • Texas College
  • Texas Independent Baptist School
  • Texas Southern University
  • Texas State University
  • University of Houston — Main Campus
  • University of Houston  Victoria
  • University of Incarnate Word
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Texas at San Antonio
  • University of Texas at Tyler

 

UTAH

Recommended:

  • Brigham Young University
  • George Wythe University
  • Neumont University
  • Weber State University
  • Westminster College

 

VERMONT

Recommended:

  • College of Saint Joseph
  • Johnson State College
  • Middlebury College
  • Saint Michael’s College
  • University of Vermont
  • Vermont Technical College

 

VIRGINIA

Recommended:

  • Hartland College
  • Hollins University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Radford University
  • Randolph College
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • University of Mary Washington

 

WASHINGTON

Required:

  • University of Washington Tacoma

 

Recommended:

  • Art Institute of Seattle
  • DigiPen Institute of Technology
  • Eastern Washington University
  • Saint Martin’s University
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Seattle University
  • University of Washington (Seattle)
  • University of Washington Bothell

 

WEST VIRGINIA

Required:

  • West Virginia University
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology

 

Recommended:

  • Bluefield State College

 

body_westvirginiau.jpg Very dramatic, West Virginia

 

WISCONSIN

Recommended:

  • Cardinal Stritch University
  • Carroll University
  • Marquette University
  • Saint Norbert College
  • Silver Lake College

 

WYOMING

Recommended:

  • Wyoming Catholic College

 

VIRGIN ISLANDS

Recommended:

  • University of the Virgin Islands

 

What’s Next?

Now that you know whether you need to take ACT Writing, make sure you do well on it. Learn the prompts that ACT Writing tests, 15 strategies to improve your ACT Writing score, and how to get a 12 on the essay.

Ready to work for a killer ACT English Language Arts Score? Make sure to remind yourself of what’s actually tested on ACT English and ACT Reading.

For top strategies for scoring a 36 on ACT English, check out this article.

Don’t forget the rest of the test—here are tips for getting a perfect ACT score, by a 36 full scorer.

 

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Mary Ann Barge
About the Author

Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.



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