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African American DNA Research Forum

Deciding Which DNA Test To Get

If I am told that I am 87% sub-Suharan African, then I am going to take that to mean that 87% of my ancestors (and my sister's), within a certain number of generations, were from West Africa.

I suspect that that is the way many folks interpret the predictions they get from these testing companies. Unfortunately, that's NOT what the predictions indicate! The results that one gets for the Admixture tests tell them what they themselves got in terms of DNA, not what other family members got in their DNA when they were conceived. The Admixture tests do not predict what the actual mixture of your ancestors ethnicities were, but rather, what percentage of those mixtures you received.

This helps demonstrate why it's so critically important to choose the test(s) that will give the answers that you're searching for. And, it must be kept in mind when selecting the different tests, that you cannot 'read' into the test results what you 'want' the test to tell you. In other words, the tests have extremely limited capabilities (This is still a very young science), so, it's important to understand what the tests can and cannot tell you about your ancestors.

For some people, one or more of these tests can really be helpful with their research. For many of us, however, the tests can only fill-in a few blanks...if we're lucky! But, it all really depends on what the individual is looking to answer.

My position on these tests (and I've had three done), don't bother with them unless you completely understand what it is that the test can do for you...and you can only know that by reading what the labs tell you that the tests are designed to accomplish (I've had to read the information many times and again before I understood much of what the labs were trying to explain...I'm not a geneticist like they are). If you have any doubts about what the tests can do, ask here, there and/or everywhere before you have a test done that will only give you a bunch of letters and numbers that are meaningless with regard to your research. The tests are relatively expensive. Sometimes, regular research will give you the genealogical answers that you seek, for about the same amount of money that the DNA tests cost.

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Question about DNA Admixture Tests
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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