know your dna logo
search iconmenu Icon

Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate?

Updated on September 17, 2021
Written by
Joel
KnowYourDNA is reader-supported. This means we may receive a commission when you buy something from one of the links on this page.

This question can’t be answered with exact certainty, as many factors come into play. Ultimately, no DNA analysis is patently inaccurate. However, 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,  the above-mentioned DNA testing companies are highly recommended. 

The exact accuracy of your test results may vary depending on a few potential factors. These include: 

  • the DNA testing kit you use
  • the type of DNA sample you submit 
  • the reliability of the testing company’s lab 

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 not given by doctors or professionals. Therefore, they are not meant to diagnose any illnesses or provide any guarantees. 

These home DNA test kits are primarily for entertainment. They’ll help you learn some new information about yourself. They’ll also help establish your carrier status for certain conditions. However, when it comes to your health and wellness, nothing beats a licensed medical practitioner. 

Your DNA results can provide some surprising info about your genetic predisposition to certain ailments. Ancestry testing can help you find new additions to your family tree. Any health reports you receive in your DNA analysis are simply suggestions to improve health. The report 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.  They could have done it even without sequencing your genetic data. However, the difference lies in the tailored results you’ll receive in a DNA testing company’s health report. They may offer some additional insights you may have missed otherwise.

Many of these kits focus on ethnicity or ancestry testing instead of your health and wellness. 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 most 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 genetic 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). They can also track your paternal line with y-chromosome tests (Y-DNA test). 

DNA services like AncestryDNA and 23andMe even offer tools to build an online family tree!

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 genetic data 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. This is 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

1

AncestryDNA Genealogy & Ethnicity Test - Our Top Pick

KnowYourDNA Recommends

Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 5

Key Features:

  • Easy to take: It simply requires taking a small swab of saliva. Then you have to send 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.

2

MyHeritage DNA - Ancestry & Ethnicity Estimate Genetic Testing

Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 6

Key Features:

  • Detailed ethnicity estimate: Learn about your family history from across 42 different regions.
  • Broken down 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.

Accuracy of DNA testing for ancestry

Ancestry is where these at-home DNA kits may be most reliable. This helps determine 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, you might find them. 

Finding compatriots to guide you is often the best method for those seeking to find a more profound attachment to their heritage. If you find someone 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 required to receive any benefits associated with the status. 

The same is often the case in Canada. This also applies in other jurisdictions that recognize exclusive rights for their indigenous cultures. The best way to learn more about your ancestry is to reach out to these distant relatives.

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

Best DNA Testing Kits for Ancestry

1

23andMe - Ancestry + Traits Service

KnowYourDNA Recommends

23andMe logo

Key Features:

  • 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.

2

Living DNA - Our Top Pick

Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 7

Key Features:

  • Easy to take: It simply requires taking a small swab of saliva. Then you have to send 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.

Accuracy of DNA testing for genetic health

The health implications of your genetic makeup are usually based on slight 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 and Cystic Fibrosis caused by mutations in the HTT and CFTR genes. 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

1

23andMe - Health + Ancestry Test

23andMe logo

Key Features:

  • Learn your genes: Learn how your genetics can affect your likelihood of developing certain health conditions. These conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, Cystic Fibrosis, and more.
  • 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.

2

AncestryHealth Core Health Test

Which DNA Test is the Most Accurate? 5

Key Features:

  • 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. 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 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. The popularity of these DNA testing services means 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. 

If you’re looking for something 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 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 from 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 and download your DNA raw data. 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. After all, you’re using world-class expertise in both health and ancestry!

Joel
Content Contributor
Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.
back to top