You should receive a card certifying your completion. This card helps at the DMV (if you have to go) and might get you a discount with an insurer.
I would not take the course any sooner than about 3 months before getting into the purchasing market. You'll simply forget too much stuff. Alternately (and even better) take it now to be sure you're interested and then again just before you go shopping. Obviously that only works if its not insanely expensive in your state/locale.
Dragging knee is for the track, and dragging tail is for the lot. --Kane Friesen
When you're in a car, you're watching a movie; when you're on a bike, you're in the movie. --Robert Pirsig
Identity theft is not Fun