I teach all my beginners through the "Strictly Strings" series of books. They are designed to get you playing recogniseable tunes quickly, and each page has easy to follow lesson notes, so you can remember what you're supposed to be focussing on.
Exams can be a great way of assessing where you are at, and how you can improve. They are useful for gaining confidence in performing under stressful conditions. However, the exam itself is not required, and we can study the repertoire as a structured way of improving in addition to the Strictly Strings repertoire. Ben will advise if this is a path to explore.