How To Read A DNA Test

Self-DNA testing is becoming more and more popular, and lots of top companies are competing for sales with their own versions of these test kits.

They are great for those who are looking for more information about where they came from and who want to know more about their familial ties and heritage. 

With new developments in science happening all the time, DNA testing kits are becoming more advanced, and they can tell you lots of information about yourself that you didn’t already know.

laboratory worker holding a statistical analysis of a dna result

You can buy these tests online from a variety of companies, and they range in cost depending on the services that they offer. There are cheaper kits available for those on a budget and more expensive versions for people who want the most detailed results.

It can be difficult to read a DNA test due to the masses of information that you are being provided with, so we have created this space where you can find out how to read a DNA test and learn all about the different results that you can receive.

Taking a DNA Test

When you purchase a DNA test online, you will be sent a testing kit in the post that will be in the form of either a sample collection tube or a swab. The process of collecting a sample varies from different companies, and for some, you will need to provide a saliva sample, and for others, you will need to provide a cheek swab.

Once you have collected your sample by following the instructions that were sent along with the kit, you can mail your sample back to the lab. Most kits will come with a prepaid return envelope that you can send your sample in.

Once the lab receives your sample, they will begin analyzing your DNA so they can produce your results. Typically, it will take a few weeks for your results to be ready, and once they are, you will be sent a confirmation that they are ready to view.

The results will either be sent to you via a paper copy in the post, or you will be given access to view them online. The second option is the most common.

DNA Test Results

You can learn lots of new things about yourself and the past that you didn’t know before. Here, we are going to give you a rundown of what you can expect from your DNA test results.

The first thing that you will be able to find out about is the original location of where your ancestors came from. Those that have deep ancestral roots in a region will share DNA with those from the same place.

Analyzing this DNA can give you an idea of where your ancestors came from. Some of the major companies that specialize in DNA testing will have a large database of DNA samples from people that have taken their tests, and this database can be used as a reference when sorting you in to your ethnicity estimate.

When your sample is being analyzed, your DNA test results will be compared with up to millions of other people’s DNA to find the identifiers that mark where your ethnicity originated.

Your results will be able to tell you how much of your DNA comes from various different regions from around the world. Usually, this is given in the form of a percentage, and you might be surprised about where your DNA came from.

When you have been sorted into the regions that your family once belonged to, some companies will be able to tell you how they moved around from one place to another as time went on.

They might have crossed oceans to new continents, or they might have stayed in the same places for centuries. The only way to tell is to find out in your DNA test results.

Combining your DNA with modern science and the current knowledge of the previous history will help tell analysts where your family moved around. You might already have knowledge about this from family members, so you can either prove your knowledge or even be surprised by learning new things.

Most DNA tests will tell you all about your likely traits, like the color of your eyes or the likelihood that you have freckles and red hair.

There are also other traits that can be discovered through your genes, like genetic predispositions to certain features based on your ancestors or an aversion to certain smells or tastes. There is always something new to learn, and it will be interesting to find out what traits are associated with your DNA.

This will also show you traits that are likely to run in your family, and you can compare your results with your family members to see how accurate they really are. Your DNA helps to shape who you are, and your results will help you learn more about the subject.

Your DNA test is just based on the history of your ancestors and the story of your DNA, and it can also tell you about your current family. DNA tests often help people to find close and distant relatives that they didn’t even know that they had. The more people that take part in the same DNA test from a company, the more likely you will be to find new relatives.

Some DNA tests, though not all of them, will also have the option to conduct a health test. These tests will be able to tell you what health conditions you might be more likely to develop through the course of your life.

You should note, you are not guaranteed to then go on and develop these conditions, it just means that you are at a higher risk of developing them. The health tests can also tell you if you are a carrier of any health conditions and whether you could pass them on to your children. It is possible to be a carrier without developing the condition yourself, but you can still pass it on through generations.

How to Read a DNA Test

The first thing that you will need to do is to locate your results. If these are a paper copy, then that won’t be too difficult.

However, if your results are online, you will need to log in to your account in order to view your test results. Start at the beginning of your results instead of skipping through to the exciting parts, as this can be confusing, and it might not all make sense to you.

If you come across any words that you don’t understand, you can either google the meaning to gain a better understanding, or you can check the help or frequently asked questions section on the website. It can also help to do some research beforehand on the meanings of the results that you are expecting.

The website will tell you all about what you can expect from your results when you are purchasing the test kit, so do some digging and find out what it all means. This will make it much easier to understand when you have your full results in front of you.

Even though it can be exciting and nerve-wracking when you get your results, and you just want to dive in to find out all about your history, you should take your time when it comes to reading the results.

Prepare for Changes Over Time

It is worth noting that it is near impossible to 100% accurately display all of your information about the past and your history without living through the time and observing it yourself.

However, the results that you receive will be mostly accurate as they are based on other people’s DNA and ethnicity. As new discoveries are being made all of the time, you should be prepared for your results to change slightly over time.

In terms of ethnicity estimates, the percentages that you have been given for each region can change, some new regions could appear, and some old regions, especially low-percentage regions, could disappear.

This is simply what could happen, but your result might not change at all. This is because the amount of possible regions that companies can compare your DNA against is expanding with the popularity of their products.

The more people that take part, the more information and knowledge these companies will have available to them.

For example, when first started selling DNA testing kits, they only had 22 regions to compare, and now, they have over 1000.

Updates to data pools and algorithms can also mean that your percentages become higher or lower as companies identify new regions. The ability to provide more accurate results becomes more of a reality with every new discovery.

If you notice that a certain region has disappeared from your ethnicity estimate, it is probably because the knowledge surrounding particular regions in terms of DNA has improved, and a region that you were originally assigned a percentage to might be found to be incorrect. 

This will likely only ever happen to regions where you have a really low percentage associated with them