People do DNA tests for several reasons. Either to fill a gap in their family tree, learn more about where their ancestors come from, discover and connect with relatives they never knew they had or simply to map their genome just in case.
But, no matter the reason for undergoing the test, you certainly want to make the most of your result. To that end, here are a couple of tips to ensure you get the most out of your DNA test results.
First, you may want to download your DNA results.
Downloading your raw DNA result is an essential task after the test results come back. Think of it as the same thing you do after undergoing a lab test – your physician often always gives you a copy of the lab test result to keep.
However, besides downloading the DNA result as a keepsake, it also has some practical uses.
For example, you may want a second or third opinion about the DNA result or simply to improve the odds of connecting to distant cousins that would help you complete your family tree. In that case, instead of undergoing a new DNA test, you can download your DNA file and upload to other DNA testing sites without paying.
Most of the major DNA testing companies: FamilyTree DNA, MyHeritage, GedMatch, Living DNA allow you to upload DNA results from other companies except AncestryDNA and 23andMe, which only accepts test results from their company.
Each of these sites provides you with new DNA matches which you would have missed out on.
While downloading your raw DNA result is simple. The actual steps differ from company to company. So you may want to read up on the appropriate steps to follow for each testing site.
Link your DNA test to a family tree
Linking your test to a family tree ensures your DNA matches can connect to you. It is also a great way to discover ancestors you share with your DNA matches.
The site’s algorithm uses your DNA information to find people who are both on your tree, and in other ‘siloed’ family trees you possibly wouldn’t know exists.
But for most people, the real work is in building the family tree. If you are an AncestryDNA user with an LDS partner account, you can import up to 4 generations from FamilySearch.
To do that, on the ‘Tree’ tab at the top left side of the site’s home page, select ‘Import tree from FamilySearch’ from the drop-down menu.
Follow the prompts to import up to 4 generations into your AncestryDNA family tree. You can also add more relatives from FamilySearch.
If on the other hand, your family tree is on software programs like RootsMagic or Ancestral Quest, create and export a GEDCOM file which you can then upload to AncestryDNA.
But, what if you don’t have a family tree created anywhere? You can build one on AncestryDNA from scratch.
Start by adding yourself, your parents, and grandparents. Then continue to go as far back as you can. Remember, the further back you can go, the better your results.
Be sure to include dates and places as these details make it a lot easier to fine-tune your family tree and can help you to uncover new research trails to explore.
Compare DNA results to your shared matches.
You can compare your DNA results to your matches to see what regions you share in common. The comparison can also give you insights into what composition of your family’s DNA is tied to what area.
By comparing your DNA results to your shared matches, you can begin to differentiate which side of the family each connection descended from.
Contact your matches
What is the point of a DNA test if you cannot contact people who match your DNA signature?
Contacting your DNA matches can help you learn more about your family history, meet new family members and share information.
For most DNA sites, you can contact a match by clicking on the connection, on the pop-up that opens, click on message or contact as the case may be.
Share your DNA results.
While some people choose to keep their DNA results private, you can either make yours public or share with family members.
Sharing your DNA results can be an effective way to get other relatives interested in taking the test too. Testing family members and adding them to your tree can provide a trough of valuable information and is a great way to determine which side of the family your DNA matches fall on.
Another way to get more hits on your DNA matches is to make your family tree public. When your tree is public, it becomes a lot easier to find other people who descended from a specific ancestor. Plus, you also get to see people who are not matched to you but matches other descendants of an ancestor.