What Is a DNA Test

what is a dna test

By ⁠Dr. Brandon Colby MD, an expert in DNA testing and personalized medicine.

Most people asking, “What is a DNA test?” want to know several different things:

  • How a DNA test is performed
  • What the DNA test analyzes
  • Why people get DNA tests
  • Where people get them
  • When someone should get a DNA test
  • Who should get a DNA test

Sequencing.com is an authoritative source for DNA information, especially when it comes to analysis. With the information presented here, you will have a better understanding of what is a DNA test. 

How a DNA Test is Performed

A DNA test is performed in several ways:

  • Cotton swab on the cheek
  • Saliva placed in a test tube
  • Blood draw

The collection part of the test is the only thing the user has to do, not including mailing the DNA sample to the lab connected with the ⁠DNA testing company

how does dna testing work

How Is the DNA Analyzed

Each of these ways is effective in acquiring DNA from an individual. This DNA sample is then sent to a lab that specializes in extracting DNA from the sample. Lab technicians will do this by putting the DNA sample through several procedures:

  1. Cell Lysis
  2. RNase treatment
  3. Protein Precipitation
  4. Ethanol Precipitation
  5. DNA Rehydration

The remaining specimen is then analyzed to produce raw data to be analyzed for genetic information. This is why when people receive their DNA test raw data, it’s just a bunch of letters and numbers. They may not seem like it holds any information but it certainly does, as long as it is analyzed further. 

What the DNA Test Analyzes

After receiving the DNA raw data, it can be analyzed in many different ways. People can use it to find out if they are predisposed to certain diseases if they are carriers for conditions that their offspring could end up suffering from, and if they would benefit from certain medications over others. DNA test results can also be analyzed to show ancestry information. This is why ⁠23andMe, ⁠MyHeritage, and ⁠Ancestry.com have been so successful - they are able to identify ethnicity by analyzing DNA according to the ancestral DNA research. 

The information doesn’t end there. People can have their DNA analyzed to learn more about how their body functions, so they can lose weight. Personality traits can be brought to light by analyzing DNA. This can help people make changes that can improve their life. 

DNA test analyzes people’s genetic makeup to reveal information that would otherwise never be available until the person finds out in other ways - such as learning about a long long relative through word-of-mouth or suffering from a rare condition. The world of genomics has given us the power of knowledge that can be used to shape our future in a slightly different way than what our genes are driving us towards. 

where to get a dna test

Where People Get Them

DNA tests are available virtually everywhere nowadays. You can get them at local drugstores or at the doctor’s office. You can find them on thousands of websites. 

As more information becomes available about DNA tests and all that they can do for people, more individuals will want to buy them and that means more ⁠DNA companies will want to sell them. 

Beware that not all DNA testing companies are the same. 

You can see a DNA test company comparison on our ⁠DNA Comparison page

Who Should Get a DNA Test

Everyone should get a DNA test. Yes, everyone. The amount of knowledge you can gain from a DNA test is extraordinary, and it can be used in many different ways. In addition to just learning more about yourself, you can take the information acquired from a DNA test to take steps towards a healthier and longer life. 

Most people would love to be able to look into a crystal ball to see the future so they know what to expect. DNA tests are similar in that you will have a better idea of what may happen to you in the future, so you can prevent or avoid it. 

When Should You Get a DNA Test

You don’t have to be any certain age to take a DNA test. As long as a DNA sample can be retrieved, a test can be performed and the results can be analyzed. 

This means that babies can have their DNA tested. Even people who have died can have their DNA tested. As long as there is a viable DNA sample that can be tested, a DNA test can be performed, and then the results can be analyzed. 


Now you know what a DNA test is so you can use this information to move forward with your learning more about your genetic makeup. The more you discover, the more you can do to improve your life, so don’t stop analyzing the DNA raw data you receive. Sequencing.com is always adding new apps to its ⁠App Market to be used on DNA raw data. 

About The Author

Dr. Brandon Colby MD is a US physician specializing in the personalized prevention of disease through the use of genomic technologies. He’s an expert in genetic testing, genetic analysis, and precision medicine. Dr. Colby is also the Founder of Sequencing.com and the author of Outsmart Your Genes.

Dr. Colby holds an MD from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and a degree in Genetics with Honors from the University of Michigan. He is an Affiliate Specialist of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (⁠ACMG), an Associate of the American College of Preventive Medicine (⁠ACPM), and a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (⁠NSGC).

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