The monster coupon is a fairly common test given because it qualifies for a greater range of diameters and thickness. This video shows some techniques for the stick fill and cap and body positioning tips.
There is a lot to talk about.
things like tungsten electrodes..type and size ( i like 2% lanthanated for everything and 3/32 takes care of most of my daily welding)
shielding gases ...argon is best to start but if you begin to specialize in thicker aluminum, it might make sense to use a blend of ...