Back to articles list Articles Cookbook
11 minutes read

How to Learn SQL Faster

Struggling with learning SQL? Does it seem like you’re doing everything right, but not making progress as fast as you’d like? Don't worry, I'll help you. Here are some tips for learning SQL quickly and painlessly.

Are you wondering how to learn SQL faster? If so, I’m here to help with some practical tips. And once you’ve found the right motivation and the right sources of knowledge, you’ll be able to learn faster. Ready? Awesome! Let’s go!

Some people think ‘fast learning’ means being sloppy or careless. They think a learning process lasting several years is better. This might be controversial, but I don't think so at all. I think you can learn as much (or even more!) learning by yourself for a year than from doing five years of university studies. Of course, the key ingredients are working hard and not being afraid of failure.

It takes time to learn new things: weeks, months, years. It’s up to you how much time a day you can spend on effective learning. Even if you have a family, it’s possible to learn new skills – Jakub published a great article about learning SQL as a busy adult based on his personal experience. You may find it really interesting if you deal with a lack of time.

Is It Worthwhile to Learn SQL?

Just as our bodies need water, businesses need data. It’s estimated that by 2025, the world's data will grow to 175 zettabytes (a zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes). Someone will have to be able to store, manage, and work with all that data. And learning SQL will put you in a position to do so. It’s a skill that will be appreciated (and valued) for many years to come. SQL is standard in many companies, and database experts generally have great salaries and no problem finding a job.

By acquiring new skills, you work for your future. You can grow in your current job, find a better job, or completely change your career path. It doesn't take years to learn SQL; you can do it quickly and efficiently. So what determines the duration of your personal SQL learning process?

Why Does Learning SQL Take So Long?

Your Individual Approach

First, your individual approach to acquiring new skills is very important. Your motivations, ambitions, attitude, and predispositions will influence how quickly you pick up new topics – and how determined you are to master them. If you have a clearly defined goal that requires SQL knowledge, it’ll be much easier for you.

If you’re already a coding enthusiast, learning SQL won’t be a big problem for you. And if you already have basic knowledge of databases and programming, it’ll be a piece of cake.

For technophobes and newbies, learning SQL can be a bit more difficult. If you belong to this group, don’t worry – I did too until recently! Remember, you’re not prohibited from becoming a coding virtuoso. Treat working with SQL as a passion and a chance to improve your life.

The Path You Choose

Second, there are a lot of resources available for learning SQL. Online, you can easily find publications, YouTube tutorials, podcasts, articles, short guides, case studies and a whole lot of other stuff that is supposed to help you master SQL.

However, not all of these “resources” will provide you with valuable knowledge. At some point, you may feel frustrated that you’ve spent so much time searching rather than learning. You may feel stuck – that you have knowledge you can’t use because no one has shown you how. Therefore, it’s important to seek out quality content (such as these verified tutorials and our YouTube channel) as well as interactive learning methods like our SQL Basics course. This will enable you to maintain a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical exercises. You’ll feel more confident using your skills in the real world.

It’s important to note that different learning methods work for different people. For one person, listening to podcasts may be the most effective. Someone else might seek out in-person workshops with a trainer. Don't get discouraged if you don't do well at first. Try new methods of learning SQL until you achieve satisfactory results.

Your Dedication 

Lastly, learning new things is a challenge. If SQL is something completely new to you, you need to systematize. It won't happen in a few hours, or even in a few days. Just like with learning to ride a bike, drive a car, or speak a new language, you need to practice.

Don’t expect to achieve spectacular results after a week of intensive learning. I’m convinced that there is nothing that can be learned without the appropriate expenditure of energy and time. The sooner you realize this, the faster you will learn new things.

Quick Start Guide for Learning SQL

When you’re starting out, keep this in mind: A good start means a better result at the finish line. So how can you get started right?

  1. How do you best acquire new knowledge? By taking notes? Reading a lot? Listening to others? By analyzing mind maps? With hands-on practice? Figure this out at the beginning and you’ll waste less Effective learning is fun learning.
  1. Should you learn Standard SQL or an SQL dialect like MySQL or PostgreSQL? The answer is – it depends. Standard SQL is always a good option because it’s a very solid basis for learning other dialects in the future. But if you know you’ll be using a specific dialect, it won’t hurt to learn that first.
  2. Prepare to gain a lot of information without getting overwhelmed by You must accept the fact that you have a lot to learn. Admit this with humility so as not to give up too soon.

Beginnings are often  difficult, and you may experience moments of doubt. To kick-start effective learning, set yourself up for success by planning the process. Divide it into stages: e.g. today I am learning SELECT, tomorrow I’m learning INNER JOINs, and the next day I will start combining these statements into extended queries.

Looks like real speed, right?

lightning mcqueen


Okay, so now you know how to prepare your mind to become successful. If you’re in the middle of learning SQL and want to become an SQL virtuoso, then it’s time to make it happen even faster.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger!

Do you like Daft Punk? I do, very much. Listening to their music, I get an energetic kick that makes me feel more positive about fulfilling my tasks. The same applies to The Prodigy. So, for starters, I will give you a song that will get you fired up to learn SQL.

I love having music on when I’m learning and working. I encourage you to read my earlier article on the impact a lit track can have on efficiency. If you like physical activity, you've probably listened to music many times during your training. Learning SQL, especially with a focus on quick results, is also training. Exercise stimulates your brain, which is not a muscle but does require a lot of attention.

Below are some of my ultimate hacks to accelerate the learning process.

Learn the Background

Do your research first! Find out how SQL works, where it’s used, and why it was invented. In this blog, you’ll find comparisons between database systems and learn the most important information about specific systems. By knowing the history of specific relational database management systems (RDBMSs), it’ll be easier for you to understand everything you learn. It won’t take long. A few decent articles from a trusted source should be enough for a start.

This research will inspire you to learn. Having a solid theoretical basis will also make it much easier for you to understand what’s going on when you practice.

Choose the Right Method

A moment ago, I mentioned how important it is to adapt the type of learning materials to your preferences and predispositions. I'll tell you how it was for me. I am a typical visual learner; I learn most things by watching.

Until I tried the courses, I had no idea that you could learn even faster by doing than just by watching. Using an interactive course, most of which is solving practical problems and applying queries, I felt as if I already had some knowledge. I was lucky to find LearnSQL right away. I didn't have to wander around YouTube looking for practical guides. (And it's so hard to find valuable learning content!) When I was doing the SQL from A to Z track, I quickly felt comfortable using SQL. That is why I recommend interactive courses.

Plan the Fastest Route

When you’re driving anywhere, you probably plan your route to avoid traffic jams and get to your destination as quickly as possible. The same should be done when you are learning SQL. I recommend developing a practical daily plan that includes everything you do. You will avoid distraction simply by knowing there is nothing else that has to be done when you sit down to study. Did you do laundry? Are the kids fed? Did you complete an overdue report for your boss? Yes to all of that; now it's time to learn SQL and you can focus on it 100 percent.

Make a plan of what you are learning and when. When you see the words written on paper, you will have a sense of obligation to complete them. It's a bit like signing a contract with yourself – pacta sunt servanda!

Don't forget to include practice time in your agenda. Theory is very much needed, but practice will help you understand what it’s all about. It’s practice that makes you an expert.

Do you like challenges? Then try our Monthly SQL Challenges. Each one has 5-10 expertly prepared SQL exercises. And every month we provide you with a new challenge! There’s also our SQL Practice track, which combines lots of different types of SQL exercises, trusted support, hints, and valuable online certification.

Stay Focused on Your Mission

The right environment is key when you learn SQL. Learning requires focus and concentration. You need to take in a lot of things and think about what function to use in certain situations (as well as how to use it). Before this becomes natural and logical for you, you need to get systematized.

For more ideas on how to stay focused, see this article I recently wrote. Some tricks are quite unconventional (like dancing before sitting at a desk or repeating new information out loud), but I swear they are very effective!

Visualize Your New Knowledge

Any new information you absorb must be kept in mind. It must go to the appropriate place in your memory, where it can stay longer. To be able to use this new knowledge at work, you need to know where to look for it.

Putting your knowledge and thoughts on paper will help you remember new information better. You can prepare colorful notes, draw mind maps, or create cheat sheets.

If you want to learn SQL as quickly as possible, I’ll save you some time. Our team has prepared some cookbooks and cheat sheets that you can use.

Free Time Is SQL Time!

Try to spend every spare moment learning SQL. Even fast results take time, and if you have some empty space in your daily agenda, you can fill it with other, non-interactive learning methods. If you have a 30-minute commute to work, you have extra time you can spend on learning SQL by listening to a SQL podcast .

And if you like to read, we can recommend these SQL books. You can read them before going to bed (which is great for sleep quality, especially if you read from traditional books instead of a screen emitting blue light). You can also read during lunch or while relaxing on a sun lounger in the garden. There are many possibilities, and if you want to quickly learn SQL, it’s worth spending every spare moment on it. Of course, you need a healthy balance so as not to burn out too quickly. You don't want to deal with “hurry sickness”.

Practice SQL, But Don’t Forget to Exercise!

When you spend every free moment learning, you must not forget about your health. Learning new skills and personal development are extremely important, but the most important thing is your health.

Find an ergonomic position when you sit at your desk. Don’t sit at your computer for hours at a stretch; get up and move around now and then! Eat healthy, exercise, and stay hydrated – a well-hydrated body functions better. Learning SQL + Exercises = Healthy SQL Code!

You Can Learn SQL Quickly!

Now you know how to learn SQL faster. I hope that these tips will help you learn effectively and reach your goals. By trial and error, you’ll be able to work out your perfect learning mode. You don't have to reinvent the wheel; there are many courses and guides developed by experts that you can rely on. Don't be afraid of failure – it’s part of the learning process.

Stay calm and organized, and don't get discouraged if you don't see the effects right away. Finally, come back to us every time you feel unmotivated. We’ll help you reignite your passion for SQL!