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Barbara Murphy was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned her B.A. from Duquesne University and her M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. After moving to New York City, she did her doctoral course work at Columbia University. Ms. Murphy also holds professional certifications in still photography and motion picture production and is one of the founding associates of the women's film company Ishtar Films.

Barbara heads the educational consulting firm BLM Consulting. She is also a consultant for The College Board’s Advanced Placement division for whom she conducts workshops, conferences and institutes. Before her work for Syracuse University's Project Advance, Ms. Murphy taught AP Language and other college level courses at Jericho High School for over twenty-three years. She also continues to be a reader of the AP Language and Composition exam.

Barbara Murphy is co-author of several books related to Advanced Placement English: Writing the AP English Essay: A Personal Trainer for the AP English Student; 5 Steps to a 5: The AP English Language and Composition Exam; 5 Steps to a 5: The AP Literature Exam; Writing an Outstanding College Application Essay, each published by McGraw-Hill. Individually, her latest book, published in 2012, is titled Putting It Together: Researching, Organizing, and Writing the Synthesis Essay.