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This is one of the most common questions asked by people who are considering a DNA test. They’re wondering if something as simple as the testing kits they find online can help them learn more about their family tree.
And the answer is “yes!” DNA testing kits can help you with genealogy research and make it possible to find out about your family tree.
First, it’s important to understand a bit about how consumer DNA testing kits came to be.
Originally, these kits were marketed as a way to learn more about your ethnicity. Submitting a DNA sample to the testing services allowed you to get a report about your ethnic makeup. Over time, these companies were able to compile massive databases filled with potential genetic matches. It wasn’t long before people were using the kits to help them track down their birth parents and identify long-lost family members.
In addition to providing more information to customers, these companies have also advanced their technology. Now, it’s possible to learn more about your heritage and to see how your family tree has evolved over the centuries.
DNA testing kits work in a relatively simple manner.
You submit a sample of your DNA via mail and the testing company compares your sample to samples from other modern ethnic groups. The company returns to you the results that include matches with various ethnic group matches. Keep in mind, comparisons are between modern groups and not ancient samples, so determining your exact origins isn’t possible – at least not at this point.
There are three things you’ll want to understand how helpful a DNA test can be.
People who have taken more than one DNA test are astounded to learn their results vary from test to test. This doesn’t mean there was a mistake. It means you’re receiving more information that can help you sort through your heritage.
We took every DNA test so you don't have to. Read our 2020 review of the best DNA tests.
Each DNA testing service provides slightly different results based on the comparisons it makes. Each match procedure differs, so to get the most complete picture of your ethnic heritage, you’ll want to use a few different services for tests.
You can also get a better idea of where you’re from by using testing services that narrow down your results by a specific region. Some of the most popular DNA testing services, such as 23andMe offer general results. This type of DNA test might tell you that you have East Asian heritage. But if you were to take a test that focuses exclusively on a specific area, you could learn more detailed information about where in East Asia your ancestors were from.
The best way to use a DNA test to learn about where you’re from is to try a few different tests and take time to understand the process and the results. This way you can piece together the information you get to complete the puzzle of your biological heritage.
In addition to matching with ethnic groups and getting a general idea of your heritage, there’s another way to use a DNA test to help you learn where you’re from: by locating a genetic match.
The evolution of DNA testing has led to the ability to connect with specific people with whom you share a familial link. This means people using a DNA test can identify their biological parents and other relatives, but it also means you can conduct comprehensive research concerning your DNA.
By finding someone who is a genetic match, or several people that are matched, you can conduct research and create a more accurate family tree. This might also provide you with access to historical records to help you learn more about your history.
Essentially, what this means is there is no perfect DNA test. The best way to learn about where you’re from and what your ethnic makeup is to explore all of the options available. This gives you the most complete look into who you are biologically.
DNA testing can help you find out where you’re from and, in some cases, give you far more information than that. The estimates concerning your biological ethnic makeup are just the beginning. By performing a DNA test, you might have the opportunity to make connections with long-lost relatives and learn more about yourself than you ever imagined.
Know more about yourself for less. Read our favorite DNA tests under $30 and under $60.