How to Test Your DNA: Getting Started

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Are you interested in learning how to test your DNA?  Maybe it’s because you’ve seen one of those shows on TV, or maybe you just want to figure out where your red hair comes from.  No matter what your reason, doing a DNA test is a simple and fun way to learn about your ancestry and even find new family members.

How to Test Your DNA: Easy Steps

Decide which testing company that you want to use.  As of 2017, there are three major companies who do this type of testing:  Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA, and 23 and Me.  Each company has it’s advantages and disadvantages.  If you are looking for a more scientific take on your results, 23 and Me is the best choice.  If you are interested in using your results to meet new family members and build your family tree, Ancestry DNA is the top choice.  If you are looking for a middle option, which also happens to be the most economical, Family Tree DNA would be for you.  Full disclosure:  I prefer Ancestry DNA because of the large database of other testers and a balanced approach to ethnicity reports.


    1. Visit the website of the company you decide to use, and order your kit.  Here are the links:  Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, Family Tree DNA.  Note that 23 and Me and Family Tree DNA offer more than one type of DNA test.  You only need to do the basic one (on 23 and Me, it’s called “Ancestry” and on Family Tree DNA it’s called “Family Finder”).  All three of these companies will give you similar results.
    2. Once your kit arrives, follow the instructions that come along with it.  For example, Ancestry DNA requires you to spit in a tube.  It’s quick and easy.  Family Tree DNA uses cheek swabs, which are also very easy to do.  Once you complete the instructions, pop the kit back in the mailbox.
    3. Within 4-8 weeks, you will have your DNA results!  The companies will notify you via e-mail that your test results are ready.
    4.  Check back with this website to learn how to understand your results and use them to find family and build your family tree.

Ebook About How to Understand DNA Results

I chose to use Ancestry DNA for testing my DNA.  I like the fact that they have a huge database of over 3 million testers.  This was perfect for helping me trace my difficult-to-track family tree.  I also found a new first cousin of my mom – she never knew about her!  And using Ancestry’s family tree building site, which is connected with Ancestry DNA, has made connecting my matches to my tree extremely simple.

If you have any questions about testing your DNA, I’d love to hear from you in the comments 🙂

If you’ve already done your DNA test and have your results, check out my complete guide to your Ancestry DNA results (it will help you if you used another company, too).

Featured image credit:  Geoff Stearns