From my own experience, the "picnic" trial is a great place to find out what your weaknesses are. For me it was a very low key fun learning event, The judges spend a lot of time with you and are very helpful at teaching the "steps". I've been to two, one was like an HRC test and the other was a FT/Derby. You could opt to train only and not be judged. It worked for me, I learned exactly what to work on at home and will be attempting my first AKC test in a couple of weeks. Yes, my dog is wayover 6 months but Mom was a slow starter.