How a Family Ancestry Test Works

How a Family Ancestry Test Works

Have you ever wondered about your cultural roots?  Would you like to feel closer to your ancestors?  Do you want to confirm the information that you have obtained about your family tree?  Your DNA may hold the key to answer each of the above questions and more.  A family ancestry test, also known as a genealogical DNA test, examines a person’s unique genetic code at specific locations and determines his or her genealogy or personal ancestry.  Although this test is not meant for medical use, it can provide individuals with peace of mind and can aid in family history research.

Test Procedure

One reason that genealogical DNA tests are so popular is because they can easily be conducted at home.  Taking thetest is usually a simple and painless process.  A DNA sample is usually collected by a cheek-scraping procedure.  In some cases, it may also be obtained through spit-cups, chewing gum, or mouthwash.  After the DNA has been collected, it must be mailed to a certified testing lab for analysis.

There are three types of tests that a lab may conduct with your DNA in order to determine your ancestry.  Autosomal (atDNA) tests test for all ancestry.  Y-Chromosome (Y-DNA) tests are able to test a male along his direct paternal line.  Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tests can test both males and females along their direct maternal line.  Each laboratory may have its own unique method of testing DNA in order to determine the ancestry of individuals.

How are Test Results Used?

Once a lab has obtained the test results for your specific type of test, a DNA profile is completed.  Your DNA profile is compared against hundreds of global populations and approximately fourteen anthropological regions with collectively known and scientifically validated genetic information.  This information is obtained from a large selection of highly credible scientific publications and organizations that specialize in genetic research.  Various calculations and algorithms are used to determine your strongest DNA ancestry.  Your genetic information is measured against the above information in order to determine the likelihood of a match.  The information is then compiled in an easy to understand format that allows you to learn about your DNA genealogy.

Displaying Your DNA Test Results

A DNA ancestry map displays the results of your genealogical DNA test in a clear and concise way.  This service is not available through all DNA laboratories and so it is advantageous to work with a DNA laboratory that will prepare a map for you so that can understand your results.  DNA ancestry maps are broken down into three major sections: Population Matches, Native Region Matches, and Strength Indicators.

Population Matches: Your DNA is measured individually against a large selection of worldwide populations with known DNA profiles.  A population match map will show a variety of populations from various anthropological regions and will indicate how strong of a match you have with each population.  Colors such as green, yellow, and red, as well as various shapes are used to display the strength of your match.  Dispersion population information is currently shown for the following five special anthropological regions: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, European Americans, Asian Americans, and European Australians.

 Native Region Matches: A native region map is compiled using a completely new set of calculations from those previously used.  It uses anthropological data to determine which native regions you have the strongest links with.  The data on this map is displayed using various colors to show the strength of matches.  By obtaining a native region map, you can learn more about your “deep roots” rather than simply learning about migration patterns.

Strength Indicators: Your “strength indicators” are displayed on a bar graph and they give you a good graphical representation of the cumulative strength of all the populations in your matched regions.  This graph also shows you how strong your connection is to each region, in comparison to one another.  This allows you to delve deeper into your exact origin.

How Can I Get Started?

If you would like to find out more about how to discover family ancestry and rejoice in your origins, consider having a genealogical DNA test completed today.  The easy and pain free testing procedure allows you to quickly receive your results by mail.  Your results will be compiled in an easy to understand and graphically beautiful display.  You can then proudly display your ancestry maps in your home for years to come.

About the author
Mrs. Hatland is a 30-something married, mom of 7 and the face behind the popular online publication, Motherhood Defined. Known as the Iowa Mom blogger by her local peers and “The Fairy Blogmother” worldwide. She has professional experience in working closely with clients on brand ambassadorships, client outreach services, content creation and creative social media advertising exposure.


  1. It is amazing how far science has come!! Just a swan of the inside of a person’s mouth or a blood test and you could find out more about yourself and lineage that even your own parents didn’t know!! Myself and my siblings went through DNA 🧬 testing to find out who would be a match so I could get their bone marrow to help save my life! I have Multiple Myeloma and this stem cell transplant reset the clock for me by giving me a new immune system!! I shared this on Pinterest. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks for explaining it so well. I have often thought about having this done because I would really like to know more about my heritage.

  3. Thanks very much for this detailed & interesting information, it’s very helpful !

  4. I would love to learn more about my ancestry. I have been researching my genealogy off and on for a number of years now but would love to know more. I’m sure that the results of this test would be very interesting.

  5. I had an ancestry test done last year and it was so fun and interesting! I learned a lot about my heritage.

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