You’ve decided to take a DNA test and just about to order a DNA test kit online. But there’s a question that keeps tagging at you – “how long does a DNA test take?”. There’s no definite answer. The truth is, it varies widely depending on the provider and the type of DNA test being done. It can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to get your results from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, CRI genetics, and FTDNA.
This is only an estimate and the tests could actually take longer if there’s a large volume of tests to be done or if your sample needs to be re-tested. The time can also increase drastically for more complex tests. A case in point is the 500-marker Big Y ancestry test offered by FTDNA which can take anywhere between 10 to 12 weeks. So, why do these tests take so long? Let’s find out below.
Reasons Why DNA Analysis Takes Time
1. DNA Analysis Takes Time
There are up to 25000 genes found in 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell in your body. This is where your DNA is found. Your DNA is what makes you who you are. When your spit sample or cheek swab gets to the lab, the DNA technicians start extracting your DNA.
The extracted DNA is then prepared for analysis by amplifying it through a process known as Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This involves making copies of a particular segment of the DNA. During analysis of the DNA, they look at the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These are the markers in your DNA that differentiate you from other people. You have about 10 million SNPs at certain points along your DNA. DNA companies rarely look at all of them since they don’t have the resources or the time to do so.
To hasten the process, DNA testing companies use microarray chips or genotyping. A glass slide that’s pre-programmed with known SNPs or genetic variants is used to check for similar variants in your DNA. Reading DNA this way is much faster and cheaper.
2. Comparing the DNA
The DNA testing process does not end when the SNPs are found. They go a step further and compare your SNPs to the DNA samples in their database in order to determine your ancestry. This is how your ethnic makeup is determined. You may also be lucky enough to find matches that may turn out to be family members. AncestryDNA has the largest database with over 10 million people. Companies such as 23andMe also check for your predisposition to diseases based on the genetic variants they found.
While the DNA analysis is done using a computer, it still takes quite a bit of time.
3. Volume and Shipping Time
DNA testing companies usually have tons of samples to work on at any one time. All these tests are done in one or two labs with each sample going through a rigorous testing process as discussed above. There’s also the time it takes to ship the test kit and sample back and forth. You have to account for all this time, which can take up to a week or two.
Is it Possible to Expedite a DNA Test?
You can get expedited shipping on most providers including FTDNA and 23andMe. You’ll have to pay an extra fee for this. But you cannot do much about the testing process since there’s really no way to shorten the process. You should get an estimate of the turnaround time by checking your account. Get in touch with customer service if you feel like your results are taking too long.
How Long Do the Top Providers Take?
According to the AncestryDNA website, your results will take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks after your sample arrives at the lab.
MyHeritage has a 4 to 6 weeks turnaround time. This is a lot faster than AncestryDNA.
The turnaround time for 23andMe is 6 to 8 weeks. It is totally worth the wait due to the level of detail included in the report.
· Family Tree DNA
This company offers different kinds of tests. DNA matches for ethnicity take between 4 to 6 weeks. Other tests take 6 to 8 weeks.
· CRI Genetics
After they’ve received your sample, it should take anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks to get your results. The DNA will need to pass a quality assessment prior to being used.