I Purchased My DNA Test. What Do I Do Now?

Congratulations on purchasing your DNA test!  While you are waiting for your test to arrive or for your results to come back, there are some important steps that you can take to make sure that you get the most from your DNA results.  In this post, I’ll give you some tips on how to get ready for your DNA results.

Talk to your older family members about your family history

If you have the opportunity, one of the most important things you can do while you wait for your test results is to take the time to talk to your older family members about your family history.  Grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, siblings of your parents, older cousins, or even your older siblings might be able to give you valuable insight as to what to expect from your DNA results.

I wish that I had listened to my older relatives more while I was growing up.  I knew all four of my grandparents, and knew two of my great-grandparents.  If had thought to talk to them about the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, imagine what I could have learned!   My grandfather used to tell me the same stories again and again, but I was just a teenager and I didn’t realize that I would miss listening to his voice.  I wish I had written those stories down – what I wouldn’t give to be able to talk to my grandfather again!

When you are talking to your family members, make sure you are taking notes.  You don’t want to forget important details.  Some of the questions that you might want to ask:

  • The names and places of birth of your family member’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, if known – even guesses can be useful
  • Did your family members practice a religion?  If so, which one?
  • Did any of your family members immigrate from another country?

If you can, ask your family members for stories about when they were younger.  Do they have any favorite stories from their childhood?  Do they have memories of some of your ancestors that have passed on that they would like to share with you?

If you want to be really complete, you could consider completing a Family Interview Worksheet for each person you talk to.

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Start building a family tree

Once you’ve talked to your older relatives, you are ready to start building your family tree.  It’s a great way to pass the time while you wait for your test results, and you also might find that you like genealogy.  It’s something that I never envisioned that I would fall in love with, but it has turned out  to be a really fun hobby for me.  Who knows, you might love it, too!

I like using Ancestry for my family tree for a few reasons.  First, I did my DNA test with Ancestry and this allows me to attach my results to my family tree.  Also, Ancestry just makes it very easy to build a tree quickly using other public member trees and documents.  You can even find photographs of your ancestors that have been uploaded by other Ancestry members who are also descended from them.  It’s pretty cool!

It’s free to build a tree on Ancestry, but if you want to see public family trees and access vital records, census documents, and other items that might make it easier to build your tree, you will need to have a subscription.  At the end of this post, I have a link to get a two week free trial – definitely check it out.

No matter which website or software program you decide to use to build your tree, I think you will find it interesting to learn a little bit more about your family history.  Also, the more you know about your family history, the more sense your DNA results will make to you.

If you tested with Ancestry DNA, attach your DNA test to your family tree

As I mentioned before, if you tested with Ancestry DNA, it’s possible to attach your family tree to your DNA results.  If you do this, you will have the ability to access extra features of the site;

  • Shared surnames with DNA matches
  • Shared Ancestor Hints
  • DNA Circles

If you didn’t test with Ancestry, or didn’t build your tree on that site, don’t worry!  Your hard work will still pay off.

Ask other family members to do a DNA test.

A final suggestion as to what to do while you wait for your DNA results is to recommend to your other family members that they take a test, too.  Siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are great people to talk to about DNA testing to help with family research.

The reason that asking other family members to test is because each person will have DNA that you don’t have, which means that there is information contained within their DNA that might be very helpful in learning about your family’s ancestry.  DNA contains information that connects us with DNA matches and reveals information about our ethnicities.

Specifically, each family member can reveal additional information:

  • It’s great to test siblings because: each of you inherited 50% of your DNA from each of your parents, but you didn’t inherit the same 50%.  Full siblings share 33-50% of their DNA with each other, which means that there is at least 50% of their DNA that is different.
  • Your parents are great people to test because each of your parents have 50% of their DNA that is different than yours
  • Your grandparents are especially great to test because about 75% of their DNA doesn’t match yours, but all of their DNA is relative to you since you are descended from them.  Your parents only inherited 50% of their DNA from their parents, so even if you got them to test, it’s not the same as having a grandparent test.  If your grandparents have siblings who would be willing to do a test, this is great, too.
  • Aunts and uncles are a valuable resource for DNA testing since they don’t have identical DNA to your parents, and you share all of the same ancestors as your full aunts and uncles, so their DNA helps you get a more complete view of your family history.
  • Even though cousins don’t share all of their ancestry with you, they can still be very helpful.  They will get to learn about their ancestry in the process, and their test will help you figure out how other DNA matches are related to you since you will share your cousins in common with relatives on that side of the family.


I hope that this post has given you some ideas about what to do while you wait for your DNA results to come back.  Even if you only do one or two of these suggestions, I am sure that you will find it helpful in getting the most from your results.   If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, I would love to hear from you below.

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