Shorthand is an elective module within the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism. It is a fundamental skill for all journalists and an accurate shorthand note is vital. Candidates aim to achieve 100 wpm to improve their employment prospects and to be eligible to sit the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).

The NCTJ approves journalism course providers and industry centres to deliver shorthand examinations for their candidates across the UK. Exams are offered to approved centres at speeds of 60, 70, 80, 100, 110 and 120 wpm. 

Separate NCTJ-arranged National exams are provided for external candidates (i.e. distance learners, off-course candidates, non-NCTJ learners) at speeds of 60 and 100wpm.

Information about the structure of NCTJ shorthand exams, including the marking guide, is available here.

If you are an external candidate and would like more information about National exams and available exam dates, please refer to this page.

Recorded Shorthand Exams

Shorthand exams are delivered in a recorded audio format ensuring all students hear the same dictation consistently across all exam centres. Examples of recorded exam dictations are provided below. Tutors and students on NCTJ-accredited courses have access to a wide range of practice shorthand exams within your NCTJ logins.


The following passages are all past NCTJ examination pieces. Read through the guidelines given in part 3 of the Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists textbook before attempting these passages. 

Take down the dictation at your chosen speed and then immediately transcribe your notes within the time allowed (the time allowed is indicated at the bottom of each passage).  Check your transcription with the matching examination piece.

Please see exam details for the shorthand examination error tolerance and number of errors allowed for each speed. Additional exam passages are available for purchase from our website shop.