When you say "skills exam," do you mean actual written tests specifically for nursing skills or do you mean exams in a class like Health Assessment or Funds? If they're for a class and the exams extend beyond nursing skills, the study strategy that has worked for me thus far is taking notes throughout lecture, studying those notes directly, and TONS of practice questions.
As far as skills check-offs go, the best thing you can do is PRACTICE. Take everyone's BP that you can get your hands on; find the different pulse points on different people, ask to listen to their bowel, lung, and heart sounds. Muscle memory is key, especially if you happen to "lock up" when you know you're being watched and evaluated (I'm incredibly guilty of this- skills checks make my skin crawl). If they offer open lab times for practice, go whenever you can. Use the criteria sheets they give you so you know exactly what is being looked for with each check-off.