Posted by on October 31, 2013 in AncestryDNA

If you’ve taken an AncestryDNA test then I’m sure you have noticed a few changes we’ve made recently. In this episode of “The Barefoot Genealogist”, AncestryDNA team members, Anna Swayne, joins expert genealogist Crista Cowan to talk about the latest updates with your DNA results.


First, let’s explain a little bit about what happens when we get your sample, and how we arrive at your particular ethnicity results.

Your Results

AncestryDNA uses a reference panel that contains over 3000 DNA samples from people in 26 global regions. A reference panel simply means that we have a collection of over 3000 DNA samples from people from different backgrounds and locations, which we then use to compare to your sample when you send it in.

Your AncestryDNA sample is then tested 40 times individually in order to get your ethnicity estimates – this is why there is an average percentage in your results. When you click on that you can then see there is a range that shows you the results of those 40 analyses.

Now, on your new results page, you will see a lot has changed. The biggest piece of advice that we can give you on understanding the new AncestryDNA results page is click and read. Click and read everything that you can – we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into providing you with the most information that we can so you can understand your results better.

Click on a particular ethnicity in your results and you will not only see the percentage range for that particular ethnicity, you will also see a map specific to that ethnicity and the primary areas it is found. You can scroll below and see how your results stack up to that of a typical native from that area according to our reference panel.

If you continue to scroll down you will find a bevy of resources devoted to helping you understand the genetic and historical context of this particular ethnicity. You’ll be able to see other regions that are commonly seen in DNA from this region and read about the population history for this particular location.

You will also notice we removed the “Uncertain” category – we now show you all of your trace regions once you click on them. Trace regions are regions that showed up in your results, but not consistently, so the percentages are very small.

Lastly, if you are interested in the science behind the ethnicity estimates and how we analyze your sample, read, “Unraveling the Science Behind Ethnicity Estimation” by our population geneticist, Julie Granka.


More Resources for Understanding Your Results

A great new feature on the results page is the help section. Navigate to the question mark at the top right corner of the results page. Here you will find an array of AncestryDNA question that we have tried to answer for you. If you are interested in the reference panel, how your sample is analyzed, or if you want to read our whitepaper on ethnicity estimates, there is great information here. This should be your “go-to” for the any kind of DNA questions you might have, or even if you’re just interested in the science and limitations of our test, this is a great place to learn more.

Also, if you find that you have more specific questions about your results or about the AncestryDNA test as a whole, check out our Community Forum where you can talk to other community members to help find answers.




  1. Anne Benson

    I have noticed on my most recent DNA matches there are names not in my tree. It seems they are from the same areas that my ancestors are. This is far too general for me, and I don’t find it helpful – only confusing.

  2. Shirley Gillespie

    I agree with Anne Benson. The names in the DNA results are NOT in my trees. Not even going back several generations. What’s going on?

  3. Emmanuel Ayala

    The new results look nothing like the original results I first got. Why so many changes? Where the first results all wrong?

  4. Robin Kerwin

    This DNA test has been a waste of time and money. I have found what Ancestry says are matches aren’t really matches just surnames in common. My second cousin shows up as a distant relative. I have another cousin who doesn’t even show up. And then there are the results. Ancestry shows 16% Scandinavian. My family records are well researched and there aren’t any Scandinavians. The results show only 15% Great Britain which I think is low. I also am unclear about the 10% Ireland. Do they really mean Wales or Scotland? The Europe Western at 50% is probably right but do they mean 50% France or 50% Germany or what?

    Save your money for something more conclusive.

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