Updated on: June 23, 2020

This question can’t be answered with exact certainty, as there are many factors that come into play. Ultimately, no DNA analysis is patently inaccurate, but some DNA testing companies are more reliable than others when it comes to specific areas.

For example, DNA testing services like AncestryDNA offer popular ethnicity tests that are incredibly reliable. For an ancestry test, 23andMe and AncestryDNA are common choices. If you’re interested in a health test, the previously mentioned DNA testing companies (23andMe and AncestryDNA) and MyHeritage will give you accurate DNA results. 

The exact accuracy of your test results may vary depending on a few potential factors. Things like the DNA testing kit you use, the type of DNA sample you submit, and the reliability of the testing company’s lab all come into play. So to narrow down the best DNA testing kits in terms of accuracy, we looked into the top DNA services to tell you what we found!

The DNA test kits covered in this article are taken at home and are not given by a doctor or professional. Therefore, they are not meant to diagnose any illnesses or provide any guarantees. These home DNA test kits are primarily for entertainment value and to learn some new information about yourself.

That being said, your DNA results can provide some surprising info about your genetic predisposition to certain ailments, or help you find new additions to your family tree. Any health reports you receive in your DNA analysis are simply suggestions to improve health, and may include things like:

  • Suggesting more exercise and exercise types based on your DNA sample
  • Vitamins and supplements that may benefit you
  • Your sensitivity to saturated fat intake
  • Diet suggestions based on your genetic information
  • Potential illnesses or genetic conditions you could develop or pass on to your children

A dietician or nutritionist could have made most of these 'actionable' suggestions even without seeing your DNA. However, the tailored results you’ll receive in a DNA testing company’s health report may offer some additional insights you may have missed otherwise.


Want to know the best DNA test for Health, Ancestry, or Heritage? Read our 2020 review of the best DNA tests.


Many of these tests focus on your ancestry or ethnicity, instead of your health. However, one downside is that the outcomes can be somewhat vague. If you’re looking for something specific, say Native American blood, Jewish ancestry, or Irish lineage, you may find your final percentages unclear. 

Even if the majority of your genetic ancestry originates from one of these populations, it won’t be enough to gain access to organizations associated with these ethnic groups. However, they can give you fun information like how much Neanderthal DNA you might have. 

Genetic testing can be effectively used to find distant relatives or long lost family members as well. If genealogy is your goal, DNA testing kits are a great option. They allow you to track your maternal line with mtDNA tests (mitochondrial DNA tests), and your paternal line with y-chromosome tests. DNA services like AncestryDNA and 23andMe even offer tools to build an online family tree!

Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 1

Accuracy of DNA testing for ethnicity

When it comes to the accuracy of testing for ethnicity, most at-home DNA test kits aren’t much more than a novelty. Many give you a breakdown by percentage of your genetic makeup and tell you where your genes came from. For some tests, this tracking starts at the emergence of proto-hominids out of Africa. Others track more recent movements, up to and including the last few generations.

The rough ethnicity estimates provided by these home DNA testing kits are usually adequate for the average consumer. If you’re looking for something more specific, it’s best to ask why you’re seeking this particular answer. This path of inquiry usually evolves from questions about your status regarding Native American, Jewish, or ethnic minority ancestry.

In all these cases, the results of an at-home DNA testing kit will not be sufficient to justify any substantiated claims to these ethnic groups. With Native Americans, connections to the community - and acceptance by a tribe - are often based on documented genealogical history even if you’re 100% Native American genetically. In this regard, you shouldn’t seek accuracy in testing for ethnicity, but more so the accuracy of an ancestry test.

Best DNA Testing Kits for Ethnicity

AncestryDNA - Genealogy & Ethnicity Test: $69

  • Easy to take: It simply requires taking a small swab of saliva and returning your DNA sample to the AncestryDNA lab.
  • Precise ethnicity estimate: Your test results will give a geographically detailed breakdown of your ethnicity.
  • Migration patterns: Learn the routes your distant relatives may have taken.

MyHeritage DNA - Ancestry & Ethnicity Estimate Genetic Testing: $79

  • Detailed ethnicity estimate: Learn about your family history from across 42 different regions.
  • Brokedown by percentage: MyHeritage DNA offers an ethnicity estimate that shows what percent of your DNA ancestry is Irish, Native American, Japanese, neanderthal etc.
  • Family tree builder: Easily create an online family tree and track distant relatives across your family history.
Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 2

Accuracy of DNA testing for ancestry

Ancestry is where these at-home DNA kits may be most reliable in determining if you’re a member of certain minority groups. Tests like MyHeritage and AncestryDNA can connect you to suspected relatives and family members as long as they’re also in the testing company’s DNA database. For those seeking to find a more profound attachment to their heritage, finding compatriots to guide you is often the best method. If you find someone who is currently a part of a Native American tribe, your search may be successful.

For Native American individuals, in the United States of America, acceptance by a tribe is often a requirement to receive any benefits associated with the status. The same is often the case in Canada and in other jurisdictions that recognize exclusive rights for their indigenous cultures. Reaching out to these distant relatives is usually the best way to learn more about your ancestry and how it may impact your day-to-day life.

A bonus of connecting with relatives is to learn more details about their medical history and that of shared ancestors. This family history is often just as relevant as the test results that you’d receive with an at-home genetic health test.

Best DNA Testing Kits for Ancestry

23andMe - Ancestry + Traits Service: $99

  • Thorough ancestry test: Track your DNA ancestry from across more than 1,500 different regions.
  • DNA matches: See if your DNA matches up with any long lost family members in the massive 23andMe DNA database.
  • Learn your genetic traits: Check your DNA swab for genetic markers associated with traits like freckles, hair, taste, and more.

Living DNA - Ancestry DNA Test: $69

  • Explore your ancient ancestry: Advanced genetic testing can look back more than 80,000 years into your DNA ancestry.
  • Detailed DNA analysis of recent ancestry: Gain an unparalleled view of your DNA ancestry over the last 500 years using the Living DNA Constellations method.
  • Grow your family tree: Add some new branches to your family tree using the Living DNA matching tool and find DNA matches from across the globe.
Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 3

Accuracy of DNA testing for genetic health

The health implications of your genetic makeup are usually based on minute increases in the health risks of developing certain illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s. The accuracy of these health reports varies significantly depending on numerous factors. There are two main groups of health risk assessment when it comes to genetics: gene-based risk factors and genetic risk estimates.

Gene-based risk factors: These illnesses are due to mutations in specific genes, often with a stronger connection to genetic variants and diseases. Examples include Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Cystic Fibrosis, caused by mutations in the HTT and CFTR genes, respectively. However, each gene contains dozens of variants, each with a variable level of influence.

Genetic risk estimates: Also known as Genetic Risk Scores (GRS), these results combine an accumulated health risk of a given illness based on many different genetic mutations. All mutations associated with blood pressure can be combined to provide an overall risk assessment. Even mutations with a minimal, singular effect. These scores are speculatory and will increase in accuracy as research proceeds.

In both regards, 23andMe offers the most and is at the forefront of genetic health information. The question of which DNA test is most accurate receives a definitive answer in this realm. It’s the only FDA-approved test to provide results on your health and predispositions to illness and disease. You’ll have to do some research to understand the implications of these estimates.

Best DNA Testing Kits for Health

23andMe - Health + Ancestry Test: $149

  • Learn your genes: Learn how your genetics can affect your likelihood of developing certain health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Cystic Fibrosis.
  • Discover your traits: Find out what your genetic markers have to say about things like smell and taste preferences.
  • Know your child’s health risks: Your test results will tell you what conditions you may be predisposed to passing off to your children.
  • Download your Data:  23andMe allows you to download your raw data. This DNA data can then be uploaded to sites like Ancestry.com or Living DNA.

AncestryDNA - AncestryHealth Core Health Test: $99

  • How DNA affects your health: DNA analysis informs you of the potential for developing certain health conditions, and the steps you can take to avoid them.
  • Easy to take: Simply send a saliva swab to the AncestryDNA labs and wait for your results.
  • Beyond a health test: AncestryDNA includes an ethnicity estimate and an ancestry test with this package.

FAQ

Which are the best DNA test kits in terms of accuracy?

This all depends on the type of test you’re looking for, but in terms of the best actionable test results with unmatched accuracy, the 23andMe Health + Ancestry test is hard to beat. AncestryDNA (available on Amazon and Ancestry.com) and MyHeritage DNA also offer some incredibly accurate ethnicity and ancestry DNA test kits.

What are the best DNA test kits for ancestry?

FamilyTreeDNA, AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA all offer some very accurate ancestry test kits. With 23andMe, you can even get a package deal that includes their top of the line Health + Ancestry test together!

If looking for distant relatives, which would be the best DNA testing kit?

AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and 23andMe are probably the best for finding long lost relatives to add to your family tree. This is because the popularity of these DNA testing services means that they have massive DNA databases to find potential DNA matches.

How much does an accurate DNA test normally cost?

The price of an accurate DNA testing kit can vary quite a bit. But if you’re looking for something that’s incredibly accurate, you’ll want to avoid the cheaper tests. The best would be the 23andMe Health + Ancestry test, which will cost you $149 on Amazon. If that’s too expensive for you, check out AncestryDNA’s Genealogy & Ethnicity Test for $69 (also available on Amazon or Ancestry.com).

Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 4

Which DNA test is most accurate

When figuring out which DNA test is the most accurate, it all depends on what you’re looking for. The DNA test kits that show your family tree, such as those offered by 23andMe and AncestryDNA, are the best if you’re looking to forge connections and relations with family members, shared ethnic groups, or organizations.

23andMe gets the trophy for accuracy of testing for genetic health. Their focus on health risks is continuously updated and reviewed and unmatched in the field at the current time. Consider undertaking the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Test, download your DNA raw data, and search for genetic connections by applying your genetic information from another service. By uploading your raw data to Living DNA and MyHeritage, you get the best of both worlds by using world-class expertise in both health and ancestry!


Know more about yourself for less. Read our favorite DNA tests under $30 and under $60.

Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.

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