A DNA test can serve many purposes, as you have probably seen from TV and other social media.  For example, DNA tests can be used to discover your ancestry, identify lost relatives, verify paternity & sibling relationships and identify people who have died.

One of the newest and fast-growing uses of DNA analysis is in researching your family history, a field of study known as genetic genealogy.  According to the website, ancestry DNA testing is the use of personal autosomal DNA analysis to accomplish one of three things:

  1. Identify new/missing relatives
  2. Build a family tree
  3. Understand your long-term ethnic family history.

When looking for the best ancestry DNA test, however, there are many factors to be aware of.

Here are the top 4 things you should consider when purchasing an ancestry DNA test.

The “Big Three” Ancestry DNA Test Providers

According to authority sites and, the top 3 providers of DNA tests for ancestry research are,, and

Together, the three leaders hold more than half of all DNA ancestry records online.

Each provider offers something a little different. Selecting the right one for your needs boils down to 4 factors:

  1. Accuracy

All DNA test providers claim their tests are accurate, but it can be difficult to determine how accurate simply by listening to advertising. Ancestry DNA testing is by its nature statistical analysis, so you are always dealing with a margin of error when looking at results.

FamilyTreeDNA test results - new genetic matches in their database

FamilyTreeDNA test results – new genetic matches in their database

It’s important to do your research to find out exactly how accurate each vendor’s tests really are.

One of the ways to do this is to observe their method of collecting the DNA samples. In general, mouth swabs and blood tests are considered more reliable than hair and other sampling methods.

In order to have the best Ancestry DNA test, the collection process also needs to be handled by professionals who know what they are doing. If you try and collect the sample yourself (for example, using a home test kit), it can be easily contaminated and cause faulty results. The test kit needs to be well designed and instructions crystal-clear.

  1. Affordability

This particular factor isn’t as important as some of the others, but it can definitely play a part for those who are looking to pay for a personalized ancestry DNA test.

Being able to trace your family history and find missing links in your family tree can be a very enlightening and positive experience.

However, if it’s going to cost more than a couple of hundred dollars, you’re probably not going to do it. Luckily, all three leading providers offer an affordable and accurate service for $99.

  1. Accreditation

Accreditation is definitely crucial when dealing with DNA testing. This helps to prove to other businesses, as well as consumers, that the methods for collection and testing are the best that they can be. It also helps to prove the quality of their results. Services that have accreditation can be more expensive, but the benefits of the accreditation definitely outweigh this negative aspect.

  1. Reliability

The reliability of the testing provider is also important when dealing with both DNA tests and can also be a key factor in finding out accurate genealogy.

Ancestry DNA ethnicity test results sample

Ancestry DNA ethnicity test results sample

Look at past performance, read reviews from other consumers, and have a one-on-one discussion with one of their experts in order to answer any questions or concerns that you have.

Having the ability to find out one’s ancestry through a DNA test can be a very informative and positive experience.

Knowing how to identify the best companies and how to choose the right test for you is just one of the steps in this process.

With these helpful tips and some research of your own, you should have no trouble getting the most accurate results possible and finding out exactly what you want to know about your family’s ancestry.

For more information on how to select the right DNA test for your genealogy project, check out these resources:

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