Making a test piece, even if not of the whole thing but just some of the joinery techniques that you are planning to use is always a good idea. Focus on the areas that you are not confident about, and my experience with pocket hole joinery is that it is crucial to dial in the jig exactly to the width that you’ll be working with. When done with that it’s going to be plenty strong, especially if you also use glue.
I learned a lot about woodworking in general from the following youtube channels:
King’s Fine Woodworking
Steve Ramsey’s pocket hole jig video, his entire channel is worth watching.
Also, I learned to not be afraid to experiment, so yea, lots of failed attempts at various techniques using cheap wood, going back to watching youtube until I had it right. for me it’s the only way to learn.