Is the Ancestry DNA Test Accurate?

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I tested with Ancestry about three years ago, and it has been the source of tons of fun and intrigue for me ever since.  But this isn’t what you really want to know.  You want to know if you do an Ancestry DNA test, can you trust the results?  Is the Ancestry DNA test accurate?

The short answer:  Is the Ancestry DNA test accurate?

How is the Ancestry DNA Test Accurate?

There are two main things that you can discover when doing an Ancestry DNA test:  Ethnicity origins and DNA matches.

How Ancestry DNA finds DNA matches

When you submit your DNA sample, the Ancestry DNA laboratories use sensitive equipment in order to create your individual DNA profile.  Afterwards, your profile is compared to those of all of the other Ancestry DNA users in order to find matching DNA segments.  Depending on the size and quantity of these matching segments, Ancestry can determine whether you are related and how close the relationship is.

How Ancestry DNA determines your ethnicity

One of the main reasons that many people choose to do the Ancestry DNA test is in order to find out their ethnicity.  The way that Ancestry is able to do this is by creating unique regional DNA profiles using thousands of DNA samples from people all over the world whose families have lived in the same area for generations.  Ancestry DNA then compares your individual profile to those regional profiles to give you an ethnicity estimate.

Examples of Ancestry DNA Test Accuracy

If you are interested in some explanation, well, I am glad to give it to you.  I know personally that the tests are accurate because I have had numerous known members of my family do the Ancestry DNA test.  My sister, both of my parents, my grandmother, her brother and three sisters, and various first, second and third cousins have tested, and the accuracy of the results were astounding.

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Before I get started, you might want to know why I decided to take this test to begin with.  It was really for two reasons.  First, because there were rumors in my family that we had a Native American ancestor and I was extremely curious about whether this was true or not.  The second reason is because my husband, who is Mexican, has red hairs in his beard when he lets it grow.  I always teased him about his red-haired Spaniard great-great-great grandfather.

(Note: My husband was adopted when he was a small child and we had no idea if a red-haired Spanish great-great-great grandfather really existed.  Do Spaniards even have red hair?)

For example, my daughter took the test.  She was interested in learning about the ethnicity that she inherited from her father’s side of the family.  She came up as my top match!  It doesn’t say she is my daughter, but it does say “parent/child relationship”.  So, if you see this on your list of matches, you can be sure that it is a very close relationship.

My mother also took the test.  She was the first known family member who took the test after I did.  This is how she shows up for me:

I was able to convince my father to take the test:

In addition to my parents and my daughter, many other family members tested (as I mentioned above):

  • Two of my maternal aunts took the test.  One is a “half-aunt” which means she and my mother share one parent.  The other is a “full-aunt” which means she and my mother share both parents.  One showed up under the “Close Family” category, and the other under a “First Cousin” label.
  • My grandmother also took the test!  It is such a good idea to have older relatives take this test.  I consider it to be an amazing opportunity and a gift that she did this for me to help me with my research.  She appeared as a “Close Family” match, as well.
  • Two of my father’s first cousins took the test (on different sides of his family), and one of my mother’s known first cousins tested, as well.  They all showed up in the “2nd Cousin” category on my list.  They are technically 1st cousins once-removed for me.

(Note:  Ancestry can’t tell you EXACTLY how you are related to someone, except in a parent/child relationship.  Their computer only knows how much DNA you share, so for other types of relationships, you still have to do a little of the old-fashioned research to find out exactly how you are related.)

I knew about all of these family members before I tested, so Ancestry helped me verify our relationships.  I should say that I did not doubt them, but it was nice to see that we really are related!  This is how I can say that the Ancestry results are accurate.


I’ll be writing more about all kinds of other really neat information I learned from the Ancestry DNA test, as well as how I found new (to me!) family members this way.  Have you taken the DNA test, and if so, were you surprised or confused about your results? I would love to hear from you in the comments here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Is the Ancestry DNA Test Accurate?
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Is the Ancestry DNA Test Accurate?
Find out whether the Ancestry DNA test is accurate, and learn how they are able to determine your ethnicity and DNA matches.
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Who Are You Made Of
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