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Mastering SQL: From Practice Exercises to Real-World Applications

Learning SQL: From Practice Exercises to Mastering the Basics

Whether you’re a data analyst, a programmer, or a budding tech enthusiast, learning SQL (Structured Query Language) will add another valuable skill set to your portfolio. SQL is a powerful, yet beginner-friendly language used to manage and query data in relational databases.

With SQL, you can perform a variety of data operations, such as retrieving information, sorting, filtering, joining, aggregating, and modifying data in tables. In this article, we’ll explore two essential aspects of learning SQL.

First, we’ll delve into a series of SQL practice exercises that cover various SQL concepts and techniques. Then, we’ll introduce some online resources where you can learn SQL basics interactively, both as a beginner and an advanced user.

Finally, we’ll discuss the importance of SQL practice and the opportunities it presents for solving real-world problems and testing your knowledge.

SQL Practice Exercises: From SELECT to JOIN

The best way to learn any programming language is through practice. SQL is no exception.

Practice exercises are an excellent way to reinforce your knowledge of SQL syntax, query structure, and functions. Here are ten SQL practice exercises that cover common SQL tasks that you’ll encounter in your professional career.

Exercise 1: Selecting All Columns From a Table

In SQL, the SELECT statement is used to retrieve data from a table. The most simple form of SELECT syntax consists of the keyword SELECT followed by an asterisk (*), which means to select all columns from a table.

The FROM clause indicates which table to retrieve data from. Example: SELECT * FROM movies;

Exercise 2: Selecting a Few Columns From a Table

Often, you don’t need to display all columns from a table; some columns are more relevant than others.

To select specific columns, you can list their names after the SELECT keyword, separated by commas. Example: SELECT title, imdb_rating, year_released FROM movies;

Exercise 3: Selecting a Few Columns and Filtering Numeric Data in WHERE

To filter data based on values in a specific column, you use the WHERE clause.

It’s generally paired with comparison operators such as greater than (>) or less than (<). Example: SELECT title, box_office FROM movies WHERE box_office > 100000000;

Exercise 4: Selecting a Few Columns and Filtering Text Data in WHERE

To filter text data, you can use the LIKE operator, which matches a pattern in a string.

You can use percent signs (%) as wildcards to represent any sequence of characters. Example: SELECT title, language FROM movies WHERE title LIKE ‘%Godfather%’;

Exercise 5: Selecting a Few Columns and Filtering Data Using Two Conditions in WHERE

Sometimes, you need to filter data based on multiple conditions.

In such cases, you can use logical operators, such as AND or OR, to connect them. Example: SELECT title, imdb_rating, year_released FROM movies WHERE year_released > 2010 AND imdb_rating > 7;

Exercise 6: Filtering Data Using WHERE and Sorting the Output

By default, SQL returns data in an unordered manner.

To sort data based on a specific column, you can use the ORDER BY clause, followed by the column name and the keyword ASC or DESC, indicating ascending or descending order. Example: SELECT title, year_released FROM movies WHERE year_released < 2000 ORDER BY year_released ASC;

Exercise 7: Grouping Data by One Column

To group data based on the values of a particular column, you can use the GROUP BY clause.

You can also use aggregate functions such as COUNT, SUM, AVG, MAX, MIN to calculate the summary statistics for each group. Example: SELECT language, COUNT(*) AS count FROM movies GROUP BY language;

Exercise 8: Grouping Data by Multiple Columns

You can group data based on multiple columns simultaneously, which creates a hierarchical grouping structure.

Example: SELECT year_released, language, COUNT(*) AS count FROM movies GROUP BY year_released, language ORDER BY year_released DESC, language ASC;

Exercise 9: Filtering Data After Grouping

Sometimes, you need to filter data that have been grouped based on some summary statistics. The HAVING clause works similar to WHERE clause, but it applies to aggregate functions rather than individual columns.

Example: SELECT language, AVG(budget) AS avg_budget FROM movies GROUP BY language HAVING avg_budget > 50000000;

Exercise 10: Selecting Columns From Two Tables

In SQL, you can join two or more tables based on a common column. The most common type is the INNER JOIN, which returns only the rows that have matching values in both tables.

Example: SELECT m.title, d.company_name FROM movies m INNER JOIN distribution_companies d ON m.distribution_id = d.distribution_id;

By going through these practice exercises, you’ll become more comfortable with the SQL syntax and the logic of query building. You can extend these exercises by adding more complexity, such as subqueries, set operations (UNION, INTERSECT, EXCEPT), or using aliases to streamline the SQL code.

Learning SQL Basics: Interactive Courses and Practice

The next step in learning SQL is to dive deeper into the language and acquire intermediate-level skills. There are many resources available online that cater to different learning styles and preferences.

Here are some suggestions to get started.


SQL Basics Course

One of the most popular online courses to learn SQL basics is offered by Codecademy, an online learning platform. The course covers basic SELECT queries, filtering, sorting, joining, and aggregates.

It also includes practical projects that simulate real-world situations. The best part?

You can complete the course at your own pace and get instant feedback on your exercises.

SQL Practice

If you prefer to learn SQL by doing, there are many websites dedicated to SQL practice, ranging from beginner to advanced level. Some of them are SQLZoo, LeetCode, HackerRank, and CodeWars.

These platforms provide SQL challenges, online editors, and hints and solutions to help you improve your SQL skills. Monthly

SQL Practice

Another approach to SQL practice is to join a monthly SQL challenge, such as SQL for Data Analysis or Dataquest.

These challenges provide a set of problems related to SQL and database management that require creative thinking and problem-solving skills. By participating in a community of fellow learners, you’ll get feedback and support that’ll help you push your SQL knowledge to the next level.

Importance of

SQL Practice

Now that you’re familiar with SQL practice exercises and interactive courses, you may wonder why SQL practice is so crucial. The answer lies in the practical benefits of SQL for your career and personal development.


SQL is a highly sought-after skill in the tech industry, with many job openings that require SQL proficiency. By learning SQL, you open up possibilities for data analyst, business intelligence, database developer, or database administrator roles.

Moreover, SQL is widely used in various domains, such as finance, healthcare, e-commerce, social media, and government, which means you can apply your SQL skills in diverse contexts.

Solve Problems

SQL practice exercises are not just academic exercises; they are tools for solving real-world problems. By practicing SQL, you’ll learn to manipulate large data sets, extract valuable insights, answer complex questions, and make data-driven decisions.

Whether you’re conducting market research, evaluating customer behavior, or analyzing financial performance, SQL provides a way to organize and structure data in a flexible and efficient way.

Test Knowledge

Finally, SQL practice is an effective way to test your knowledge and challenge your assumptions. By attempting new problems and experimenting with different solutions, you’ll gain confidence in your SQL skills and discover new areas for improvement.

SQL practice also helps you learn from your mistakes, as you can identify patterns in your error messages and debug your queries more effectively.


In conclusion, SQL practice exercises and interactive courses are great tools for learning and mastering SQL basics. SQL practice provides opportunities to solve real-world problems, test your knowledge, and gain valuable skills for your career and personal development.

By integrating SQL practice into your learning journey, you’ll become more confident, efficient, and creative in analyzing data and making data-driven decisions. The Dataset: Understanding the Distribution_Companies and

Movies Tables

Data is the foundation of any data-related work, and SQL is the language that helps access and organize this data.

SQL is used to manage relational databases where data is organized in tables. The tables hold information that is all related to the same subject and has a unique identifier known as the primary key.

Understanding the dataset that you are working with is a crucial step to becoming proficient in SQL. In this article, we will dive deeper into the Distribution_companies and Movies table, and what information they hold.

Distribution_companies Table

The Distribution_companies table is one of the tables that make up the dataset. It has an ID column that serves as the primary key column in the table.

A primary key is a unique value that identifies each record in a table, and it must be different for every row in the table. The ID value is created automatically when a new record is added to the table, and it cannot be duplicated.

The other column in this table is the company name column, which stores the name of the distribution company. Distribution companies are in charge of distributing or releasing films or media products, either on behalf of the production company or the actual media (such as DVDs or streaming services).

Understanding the distribution companies is important because it helps you identify which company is responsible for releasing a specific movie.

Movies Table

The other table in this dataset is the Movies table. It also has an ID column that acts as the primary key for this table.

In addition to this column, the table has several other columns, including movie title, IMDb rating, year released, budget, box office, distribution company ID, and language. The movie title column holds the name of each movie in the table, while the IMDb rating column provides the rating of the movie according to the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) database.

This rating is one of the most popular ratings for movies globally. The year released column captures the year when each movie was released.

It is crucial to know the year released column when analyzing movies because it helps to determine the age of the movie and to compare it with other movies in the same genre. The budget column captures the estimated cost of producing the movie, while the box office column holds the amount of money the movie made when it was screened in theatres.

Understanding these values is important because it shows the financial implications of producing and releasing a movie. It helps identify whether a movie succeeded in making a profit or not.

The distribution company ID column holds the ID assigned to the distribution company that released the movie. By using this column with the Distribution_companies table, you can easily identify which distribution company was responsible for releasing a particular movie.

Finally, the language column holds the language spoken in the movie. Understanding the language is essential, especially in analyzing the market appeal of a movie in a specific region where the language is dominant.

Benefits of

SQL Practice

SQL is a powerful language and learning it comes with significant benefits for anyone who uses data to make informed decisions. Practicing SQL can help improve your understanding of the language, speed up your data analysis, and provide you with more options to manipulate your data.

As you practice, you will gain a better understanding of the benefits of using SQL and become more confident in using it.

Improving SQL Skills

Practicing SQL regularly can significantly improve your skill level. With regular practice, you become more familiar with the language’s features, including query syntax, data types, and functions.

The improved skills can help you manipulate data more efficiently and quickly, and you can build and run more complex queries with ease.

Gaining Confidence in Analysing Data

Practicing SQL goes a long way in building confidence in analyzing data. SQL queries are sophisticated and can be intimidating, but with regular practice, you become more comfortable and confident in querying and manipulating data.

By learning how to use SQL, you can communicate complex data insights easily and quickly to your team and clients. Further

Opportunities for

SQL Practice

There are several other opportunities for SQL practice that go beyond analyzing datasets.

Some of these include online courses, monthly SQL challenges, and free online datasets.

SQL Basics Course

One of the best ways to practice SQL is by accessing online courses like Codecademy’s ‘Learn SQL.’ This course helps beginners learn the basics of SQL using interactive exercises, multiple-choice quizzes, and practical projects. Monthly

SQL Practice

Monthly SQL practice challenges provide a unique opportunity to practice SQL regularly.

Sites like SQL for Data Analysis offer monthly challenges that allow participants to work on a real dataset and create a relevant project. These projects encourage creativity and help you work on bigger projects than stand-alone exercises.

Free Online Datasets

Several websites offer free online datasets that you can use to practice SQL. Kaggle is a site that provides free datasets from many disciplines, including healthcare, finance, sports, and news articles.

Datasets can be downloaded as CSV files that can easily be imported into SQL and queried.


SQL is a crucial skill for anyone who works with data. It takes practice and a good understanding of the dataset to become proficient in this language, and these two tables, Distribution_companies and Movies, form part of the dataset.

Practicing SQL helps to increase knowledge, improve skills, and gain confidence in manipulating data, and there are many opportunities to practice. Whether you prefer to work independently using online courses and datasets or work in a community of learners, practicing SQL is essential for anyone striving to excel in the field of data analysis.

In conclusion, SQL is a powerful and essential language for anyone who works with data. Understanding the dataset is crucial, and the Distribution_companies and Movies tables form a vital part of it.

Through practicing SQL regularly, you can improve your knowledge and skills, gain confidence in analyzing data, and unlock numerous opportunities for personal and career growth. There are many resources available, including online courses, monthly challenges, and free online datasets, to help you practice and master SQL.

Overall, the importance of learning and practicing SQL cannot be overstated in today’s data-driven world.

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