Portsmouth journalism students ‘smash it’ with shorthand

 In top in UK: Journalism student Alex Boyd “smashed it”

In top in UK: Journalism student Alex Boyd “smashed it”

Four journalism students at the University of Portsmouth are among a small handful nationwide to have achieved the highest speeds measured in shorthand exams this summer.

The students achieved outstanding results across the board, with 100 per cent pass rate, and 15 achieving the journalism industry’s gold standard of 100 wpm.

One Portsmouth student went one step better, gaining 110 words per minute (wpm), and four gained 120 wpm.

Shorthand tutor Gill Wray saw all her 17 second-year students pass their notoriously difficult exams, assessed by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

She said: “I’m thrilled. Of the eight students across the UK who passed the 120 words per minute exam in June, four of those were journalism students at the University of Portsmouth.

“These results are truly exceptional and the journalism team is delighted.”

The students are also delighted.

Ollie Marsh, who gained 120 wpm, said: “It’s great to be on a course that not only teaches shorthand, which is a rarity, but also teaches us the importance of shorthand.

A lot of people think that it’s old fashioned and barely used anymore, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a vital skill that journalists regularly use, and it’s also a great thing to be able to put on my CV.

“Even though I haven’t even finished Uni yet, I’ve already been in situations where shorthand has opened doors for me. On more than one occasion when I’ve been covering events, I’ve had professional journalists peer over at my notebook and tell me how impressed they are that I know shorthand.

“It took a lot of hard work and practice to get to the stage I’m at now, but passing the exams made it well worth the effort. To go from learning the alphabet to being able to write at 120 words per minute in a relatively short space of time is also testament to how much of a miracle-worker our teacher Gill is.”

Another successful 120 wpm student, Alex Boyd, said: “It’s really good to be able to come out with the highest possible speed, it’s made it feel like it was worth all the effort.

“The best thing for me is that all four of us who entered the 120 wpm exam passed it. The other three guys really deserved it and I’d have been just as happy if they passed it and I didn’t.

“Aside from that the results across our whole year were unbelievable, I think everyone’s smashed it so I couldn’t be happier.  When I look back to the first session in September 2015, nobody would’ve believed Gill if she said that all four of us could be sat here with a 120 wpm less than two years later.”

Shorthand is a key skill for journalists though Gill said some find it challenging.

“The speed and accuracy needed to pass professional exams at such high speeds requires full attendance at lectures, serious independent practise and real grit and determination on the part of every student,” she said.

“We do extremely well each year in these exams, though this year, the results have been exceptionally good and I couldn’t be more proud of our students.  They are an absolute credit to this course and to the University.”

4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Fantastic achievement! This is a notoriously tough skill to master, but they’ve clearly cracked it

    • Thanks Alexandra – the work ethic of all of the successful students was brilliant and all with great good humour and grace, even when the going was sometimes tough.

  2. Fantastic results – so proud of Gill and the students. I passed my 100wpm exam but I know all of us who sat the 120wpm from my year found it particularly difficult, so it’s great news to see such good results!

    • Thanks Kimberley, your cohort also had pretty good results and your 100wpm is really something to be proud of.

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