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 employers to deliver shorthand exams for their candidates across the UK. Exams are currently offered to approved centres at speeds of 60, 70, 80, 100, 110 and 120 wpm. 

Separate NCTJ-arranged National exams are available for external candidates (i.e. distance learners, off-course candidates, non-NCTJ learners) at speeds of 60 and 100wpm. If you are an external candidate and would like more information about National exams and available exam dates, please refer to this page.

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

Exam format

Shorthand exams are delivered in a recorded audio format. This ensures all candidates hear the same dictation consistently across all exam centres, Candidates write their Teeline note during the dictation. Transcription is conducted and submitted in the NCTJ's online assessment platform, Cirrus. Some examples of NCTJ exam dictations are available here. Use the transcripts provided to check your accuracy.

Tutors and students on NCTJ-accredited courses have access to a wide range of practice shorthand exams within their NCTJ login.

Additional exam passages are also available for purchase from our website shop.

Study Materials and Tutoring

The recommended book for shorthand study is the Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists textbook. This book is designed to take shorthand beginners up to industry-level 100wpm, and also includes essential speed building and exam practice. The book is available via our web shop, alongside other shorthand learning materials.

For those learners, or employers, who may have need of specialist tuition, there are also a number of freelance shorthand tutors offering tuition around the UK. Please see this page for further details and contacts.