Shorthand is an elective module on the NCTJ Level 3 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).

We offer exams to exam centres at speeds of 60, 70, 80, 100, 110 and 120 wpm. The NCTJ approves centres to deliver shorthand examinations throughout the UK.

The structure of NCTJ shorthand exams at speeds of 100 to 120 wpm includes a key quote in the final minute of the exam, which students must also identify and take down accurately to pass. More information about the format of NCTJ shorthand exams is available here.

Recorded Shorthand Exams

In September 2016, the NCTJ introduced a change to the delivery of shorthand exams at all centres throughout the UK. Shorthand exams are now provided in a recorded audio format ensuring all students hear the same dictation at all exam centres. Examples of recorded exams are provided below. Students on NCTJ-accredited courses have access to a range of practice shorthand exams within Student Resources.


The following passages are all past NCTJ examination pieces. Read through the guidelines given in part 3 of Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists 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 examination passages are available for purchase from our website shop.