A lot of signs are just common sense though, I can only think of one that is genuinely odd - the one indicating restrictions on parking during odd/even days of the week. The rest are fine, I think. Maybe also the snowflake one that indicates a risk of ice, not snow?
The pedestrian crossings are easy - you stop if someone is next to / on the crossing, and you can proceed when the crossing is clear. If it's during the exam and the person isn't making an attempt to cross, you verbally ask for permission based on the situation - and the examiner directs you accordingly. It's actually the correct thing to do in the exam - because it's an ambiguous situation that needs to be clarified.
The cone test is testing more than just reversing skills though - you also need to have a great ability to judge distance and the width of the car, while checking all the mirrors simultaneously and being aware of the car's position. Try it sometime, it's actually quite a fascinating thing to practice when you realise how many skills you need to have to complete it successfully. I thought the same as you before starting the driving course, but when I realised just how much it forced you to be able to control the car in a very confined space, I started to respect it much more.
There are hill starts on the test - it's the second part of the test in the test center. My instructor also pointed out to me that the drive from the cone test to the hill start was being assessed, so you had to use your indicators within the centre and be aware of your surroundings from the very beginning.
The idea to suss out the route is a top one - as long as the test follows a prescribed route. Mine didn't in Womble don...
It's pretty predictable - they only have 45 minutes (I think) for the test, so they have certain features that will always come up. For instance, in Poznań, there's a roundabout that almost everyone gets, and you're expected to either turn left or turn back on it. But there's plenty more things near the test centre that can catch you out, like a road with a 70km/h limit where you're expected (if safe) to get up to at least 60km/h.
What really made the difference for me was the time spent looking at road markings. A common thing they use is "turn left when you can" - often when there's a no entry at the first left turn. Endless amounts of idiots will take the first left, and automatically fail in the process.
Just to stress: my examiner was a grumpy old man ;)