I learned Excel on the job a couple of years ago, and most stuff I had to know I learned within a couple of weeks. There's a LOT of stuff to Excel, though, so to fully learn it? Who knows?
With respect to your temp agency's training course, if it's what I'm thinking it is, it won't be worth the money if you have to actually pay anything for it. I bet it'll go through the very basics, like opening files, saving, etc., and really basic calculations and graphs, which you can learn by yourself in an hour - even the help files in Excel will be adequate to learn the basics, and if you need more guidance, google will help a lot by taking you to forums and how-to guides. Ot, if you want a structured course, why not try the MS course you found? The point is, don't pay any money for basic Excel skills - there's enough stuff out there for free, and it's within easy grasp.
I find that using the tools Excel gives you in real situations makes what you have to do stick in your mind better than learning from a how-to book. Easy practical things you can do to learn: You might want to start with easy stuff, like organizing your checkbook with it (Each column with transaction, debit, credit, account balance). Try using equations so that it keeps the account balance column updated as you enter debit/credit amounts. You should also try to make graphs (comparing two peoples' spending within a month, for example), look around the formulas options to see what other types of calculations you can perform, and just practice how to do them.
Now, if your agency wants you to be proficient in things like macros and statistical analysis (I'll doubt it - it's been a while since I applied to a temp firm, but their excel tests covered just the basics at that time), you'll have to go to a book to know when and how to use them - digging around the web will get you what you need to do, but won't help if you don't know where to use them.
Hope it helps - Excel is quite amazing in what it can do, but you'll get the hang of it in no time!
OK, thanks for the information and encouragement guys!
I'm pretty sure that the tutorial is free, but I don't think they need me to to know macros and stat. analysis. Anyhow, my dad did bring this book home from work:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/076075 ... e&n=283155
I did do the online course about making charts, and that was pretty easy. I don't have advanced math skills at all, but hopefully it won't take me long to get the hang of it.
I thought I had pretty advanced Word skills, when I tested with the last temp. agency that I tried, but there were things in Word that they tested me on that I'd never even heard of before.