Good Afternoon,

I'm working on the table layout for a SQL database that will store individual and test information. This includes individual identifying information like Name, medical id, date of birth, etc, and test specific information - specifically raw and standard scores from a variety of psychometric tools. For the purposes of this question, I'll be providing the following sample tables:

Indiv_Information; Test_Log; Test_1; Test_2; Test_3

I have some questions about the best way to link individual information to these test scores. Option 1 looks like this:

example table structure 1

In this example each test logged is linked to the medical id of the individual who took the test. My only concern with this layout is that if I want to create a display a list of all tests a user has taken I have to scan through all of these tables, and currently there are 20+

Option 2: Create a test log table and link that to multiple test tables that contain the scores for each test. Looks like this:

example table structure 2

It's much easier to generate a list of all tests each individual has taken with this setup, but I'm not sure this is a good setup for reporting. The main problem here is that the field "assessment_id" is linked to multiple tables, and the only way to specify which score data to join to the test log table is to use "test_name_id" direct traffic. I don't even know if this is possible.

I'm looking for opinions on which of these two layouts to choose. Am I close to something optimal, or completely off base. I'm not too experienced at database design yet.

Cheers, and have a great weekend!

1 Answer 1


Based on your information, let have a draft ERD like below:

+ ID (PK)
+ ...

+ ...

+ ID (PK)
+ ...

+ ID (PK)
+ ...

If we're talking about to optimize the reporting, we should denormalize the database structure, that means to accept the data redundancy. In that case, we can merge TEST and TEST_QUESTION into one table.

Hope this help for an idea.

  • I assume that at least some DBMSs have the option to “have ones cake and eat it also” here (i.e. keep data deduplicated in a normalized structure, but automatically de-duplicate by for example de-normalizing in a cache for commonly seen/expensive reports or queries). Is that true, and if so, what is the common name for such a feature? Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 13:41

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