Not all DNA tests are created equal. First of all, there are differences in the level of accuracy. But often the main difference concerns the area of analysis the companies focus on. Some are primarily focused on helping you trace back your ancestry or ethnicity, while others help you find relatives and lay the groundwork for creating family trees. There are also some services that are focused on helping you spot possible health issues. Other points of divergence between the best DNA test kits are things like pricing, shipping time, and clarity of the results. Below, we’ll list out all the different aspects we look at when reviewing and comparing DNA testing kits.
Type of DNA Test
Before you delve deeper into your search for the right testing kit, you should familiarize yourself with different types of DNA tests. These tests differ in their ability to trace back your ancestry, and one of them can only be used on male DNA samples. There are three different test types:
Autosomal DNA: This is the most common type of DNA test that you’ll encounter. These tests measure your autosomal chromosomes, which make up the lion’s share of your DNA. The best DNA ancestry test kit usually involves autosomal DNA testing because it can analyze DNA from both maternal and paternal lines. However, due to the random DNA inheritance patterns, precise conclusions can only be drawn for close relatives. Autosomal DNA tests are considered precise up to your third cousins but can theoretically be used to find your 10th cousin.
Y-DNA: These tests can only be used by males. Y-DNA tests are used to identify male relatives. Via the surname project, men can use Y-DNA tests to find their ancestors. These tests are optimal for the best DNA paternity test kit, as they are more objective than autosomal ones since Y-chromosomes are transmitted between father and son practically unchanged.
mtDNA: This test examines the transmission of mitochondrial DNA, which is transmitted between mother and child. As such, it can be used by both men and women in order to trace your maternal ancestry.
Purpose of the Testing Kit
The best DNA tests can be used for a variety of purposes. As such, finding out what is the best DNA test kit largely depends on what you want to use it for. The most common use for home DNA testing kits is to find out more about your ancestry and relatives. These tests can help you fill out your family tree, connect with relatives that have also taken the test, and find out more about your ancestors.
Meanwhile, DNA testing for ethnicity is slightly more problematic because of how data gathered from DNA tests is interpreted. People often confuse ancestry with race. For example, you take the best DNA test kit for ancestry, and it comes back with a 7% chance that you have genetic ancestry on the Asian continent. This doesn’t mean that you’re 7% Asian, but people tend to interpret it that way. Furthermore, this doesn’t mean that one portion of your DNA is from some part of Asia. DNA doesn’t work like a pie chart, where you can see all of the different ethnicities you’re made of. Instead, statistics such as the one above are percentage estimates of where you hail from. This has nothing to do with race. In modern science, race doesn’t represent a biological concept and is largely interpreted as a social construct.
The best DNA test kit for health, on the other hand, is mainly used to determine an individual’s genetic predispositions to certain illnesses. As test kit manufacturers will tell you themselves, these health-oriented tests should be used as guides or auxiliary methods and shouldn’t replace the help from health professionals if you have genuine medical concerns.
Sample Taking Method
There are three dominant ways in which DNA samples are collected: through blood, saliva, and a mouth swab. When it comes to home use, the best home DNA test kit options rarely involve blood samples nowadays. Saliva sample tests require you to deposit your saliva in a tube you receive with the kit. This can get trickier than it sounds but still shouldn’t be too hard. Mouth swabs, on the other hand, require you to take a swab of the inner side of both of your cheeks. Each sample type has its unique packaging and conservation methods.
One commonly used method to guarantee user privacy is anonymous sample registration. By using unidentifiable codes to register your samples, no DNA information can be connected to a specific person. Hence, when using the best DNA kit, you won’t have to worry about someone being able to get access to your personal DNA information.
Of course, pricing plays a huge role in our evaluation. When we look at DNA test kit prices, we examine what exactly you’re getting for your money, including the accuracy of the results, the kind of information you’re getting, how detailed the reports are, and whether shipping costs are included. Many of the best ancestry DNA test kit options come with a one-time fee. However, companies like AncestryDNA have a subscription fee for their family tree features.
The Best DNA Test Kit 2021
- MyHeritage DNA
- FamilyTree DNA
Which DNA test is the most accurate?
It’s hard to make a DNA test comparison since most labs are now equally advanced. However, AncestryDNA and 23andMe are considered to be the most reliable.
Which is better AncestryDNA or 23andMe?
These two services are very similar, but AncestryDNA has a larger customer base, making it easier to find relatives.
Is AncestryDNA accurate?
AncestryDNA is widely considered the most accurate service on the market. The company promises DNA test results that are 99% accurate.
Can a DNA test be wrong?
Even the best DNA test kit can be wrong. This is usually due to human error or if the sample gets contaminated, but these situations are extremely rare.