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Learning SQL? 12 Ways to Practice SQL Online

If you’re currently learning SQL, you may have found yourself knee-deep in reading material and may be wondering how on earth you can bridge the gap between book knowledge and real-life SQL application. In this article, we bring you 12 of the most effective ways to practice SQL online, taking you from a bookworm to a database butterfly in no time at all!

All theory and no practice will make you a frustrated SQL user!

Get Your Hands Dirty: Learn SQL Online

A few years ago, I met a woman who had just graduated with a master’s degree in Computer Science. She spent six years of her life slaving away over that degree, devouring textbook after textbook, taking test after test, toiling away day and night until finally–finally–she was qualified.

The problem was she had never sat down at a computer in her life. She had never, ever put into practice a single thing she learned about computers. She may even not have known how to turn one on.

Unbelievable as it may seem, this story is true. This woman came from a very underprivileged Southeast Asian nation, and the opportunity to practice her computer skills simply had never arisen during her six long years as a computer science student.

I am sure you’ll agree that learning computer science through textbooks alone is not exactly a recipe for practical success.

Learning SQL, of course, is no different. You cannot expect to become proficient at SQL unless you hop onto a database and start practicing it.

If you’re new to the world of SQL, though, it can be hard to figure out where and how to gain that all-important practical experience. We’ve got you covered below with 12 great resources for practicing SQL online. They’re grouped into three categories:

  • The guided practice
  • The DIY practice
  • The flying solo practice

Let’s jump in and take a look!

Learn SQL Online: Guided Practice

1. LearnSQL.com Practice Course

Wanting to get some hands-on experience with SQL is great, but first you have to know your way around a database and some basic SQL queries. If you’re here looking for practice, we assume that you already know some of the SQL basics. If you don’t, take a look at this easy-to-follow SQL Fundamentals course that will give you all the basic knowledge you need to get started with SQL.

Already have a good idea of the basics? LearnSQL.com has a fantastic SQL Practice course that will get you up to speed with key SQL coding skills. There’s nothing more effective than learning while doing, and this course will help you get to that point quickly and painlessly.

Want to check out the course and see if it’s for you? Simply head on over and click the “start for free” button to give it a go!

The course contains:

  • Exercises that will gradually increase your SQL competency
  • Hands-on practice with a real code editor, real data sets, and real-life problems to solve
  • Plenty of hints, just in case you get stuck!

When you’re learning a language, learning to drive, or learning to dance, it’s always better, faster, and more fun when you start applying your knowledge in practice. It is very much the same with practicing SQL. The best part of the LearnSQL.com SQL Practice course is that it provides a robust and supportive framework around your learning to keep you on the right track when you’re just starting out.

Learn SQL Online: DIY Practice

Graduated from the LearnSQL.com practice course and looking for more opportunities to practice SQL online? The good news is that there are plenty of websites out there, filled with resources to help you do just that.

The bad news? There are almost too many websites out there with resources claiming to do just that.

We’ve weeded out the time wasters to bring you the best SQL websites in the webosphere. This leaves you free to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with plenty of practice problems and successful SQL statements.

2. SQL Fiddle

SQL Fiddle

SQL Fiddle is a great place to start if you’re looking to, well, fiddle around with SQL. A free site that allows you to test and save queries in several different kinds of SQL, SQL Fiddle is a perfect way to play around with the queries you have learned to date.

Better still, you can easily link to your query samples, allowing others to comment and help with any bumps on the road. If you browse SQL community pages long enough, you’ll see plenty of people linking to SQL Fiddle; it’s a great way to enlist others to help you if you have a problem.

3. SQLZOO

SQL Zoo

You’ll find it easy to get going in SQL at SQLZOO. This is a free platform that presents SQL in a way that is very friendly to beginners. It’s super intuitive to use and chock-full of tests and tutorials that will help you get hands on with SQL in a comfortable environment.

It offers practice queries and interactive SQL engines, so don’t overlook SQLZOO for some great steps forward in your SQL-learning journey.

4. Oracle LiveSQL

Oracle Live SQL

If you have decided to work with Oracle, then Oracle LiveSQL is a fantastic place to play around with your newly-learned syntax skills. There’s a huge library of samples you can safely tamper with as well as plenty of community input and tutorials. This beginner-friendly site has a simple and intuitive interface that makes it particularly helpful.

Choose the “Start Coding Now” option, and then–if you don’t already have one–create an Oracle Single Sign On account. With a login, you’ll be able to save all your work on Oracle LiveSQL.

5. W3resource

W3 Resource

W3resource.com is a super handy site, full of web development resources largely targeted at beginners. SQL newcomers can use the site as a comprehensive practice tool, and even those with a few more SQL miles under their belt can keep coming back to it as a reference. With regularly updated content, the makers of W3resource have clearly put in a lot of effort to make this free site a quality one.

For SQL rookies, the best feature of the site is the stacks of exercises, undeniably making this a good place to practice SQL online. From retrieving data, formatting query output, to joins and everything in between, this is a fantastic place to get in some serious practice hours.

6. Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is like an SQL bible for coding pros. You’ll find every SQL question you can ever dream of in this active community, making it a great place to go when you come across a problem you just can’t seem to solve. Be warned, though: Stack Overflow is not a place for SQL beginners to ask basic questions. There’s an unspoken minimal knowledge rule for posting questions about coding issues, and if you post something that has already been answered on Stack Overflow, or a question that is easily answered with a quick Google search, get ready for some sharp-tongued responses from other users!

How Stack Overflow does help beginners is by exposing them to a wide variety of coding discussions, problem solving approaches, and solutions to coding problems. You’ll be spending a lot of time here. Trust us.

7. DB-Fiddle

DB Fiddle

Similar to SQL Fiddle, DB-Fiddle.com is an online SQL playground for aspiring developers to practice their SQL queries, test code, and share SQL snippets.

If you’re looking to practice what you’ve learned in the LearnSQL.com practice course, the DB Fiddle “Load Example” feature is a great place to start. The site also makes it easy to collaborate with others, and you can save your work so that you can come back to it later.

8. GitHub

Github

Just like Stack Overflow, GitHub is a household name–if people in your household chat about coding on a regular basis!

Over 40 million developers use GitHub to host code, review code, and collaborate with others. Those 40 million developers are probably onto something. GitHub is a great (albeit massive and somewhat overwhelming) place to host your own projects as you get started with SQL, and just like Stack Overflow, there are plenty of opportunities to make the most of the SQL hive mind.

For example, if you will be using one of the Microsoft SQL products such as SQL Server or Azure SQL Database, it has helpful information, and there are repositories guiding you through the learning curve.

9. Coding Ground

Coding Ground

One of the most difficult things about learning a new programming language is setting up the right environment from scratch. Coding Ground solves that problem entirely, offering a stress-free online coding environment for all major programming languages and web technologies. That means you can hop on over there and start practicing your best SQL moves without having to lift a finger in the setup.

10. Testdome

Testdome

Want to know what employers are going to ask you in your SQL-related interview? Testdome helps you practice SQL skills online with a huge range of practice interview questions. Not only will these questions make you a better SQL user, more than 5,000 companies are actually using questions straight from their site–you may even thank the Testdome gods after your interview!

11. Data.gov

Data Gov

Got the practice environments sorted, and a stack of SQL queries under your belt? That’s great! Now you just need data.

There are a million ways to find sample databases to use for practicing SQL (that’s a whole other blog post for another day), but if you’re going to take a look at one, make it Data.gov. This site is full to the brim of databases you can use freely and will make you feel like you’re actually dealing with real data about real situations–because you are!

Learn SQL Online: Flying Solo (Out in the Real World)

Now, Grasshopper–it’s time to test your SQL skills in the real world! Don’t feel ready? You probably aren’t!

But you’ll never be ready if you don’t get the real-world experience with actual SQL tasks of actual SQL employers.

How do you get that experience? Well, that brings us to our last–but certainly not the least– Learn SQL tip: get yourself an SQL gig.

12. The Gig World

Hackerrank

Image: Hackerrank

If you’ve ever considered #FreelanceLife, you’ve probably come across the likes of Guru, Upwork, and Hackerrank, to name just a few. These are sites where companies and individuals post job opportunities and freelancers use their profiles and experience to score gigs and make money.

This may sound too advanced for your beginner SQL skills, but bear with me.

We all start somewhere. Because SQL is a highly practical field, it’s only going to be through real SQL projects that you make significant progress in your learning.

My advice? Take a leap of faith and apply for a few entry level SQL or data-crunching tasks. Keep in mind that it’s not about making money at this stage. Use the opportunity to learn, to grow your SQL knowledge and confidence, and to get some experience you can list on your CV.

Learn SQL, Practice SQL, JOIN the SQL Ranks!

Learning SQL can feel overwhelming as it is, but when you start seeking ways to practice SQL online, the options can really seem endless!

Starting with some ready-made online testing environments is always a good idea, and using communities like GitHub and Stack Overflow to pick pro brains is a great next step.

Before you do either, though, give yourself a head start by taking an SQL practice course. It’s the best way to get a fast start in SQL, and with this qualification under your belt, you’ll be running SQL queries in no time!

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