My (free) DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA

My Genetic Ethnicity (per DNA testing)

It seems like an eternity ago I received an email from offering me a free autosomal DNA test.  (Still don’t know why I was selected…were all subscribers offered the free DNA testing or only their most neurotic users that spend most of their non-working, waking hours searching family history?)   I immediately signed up, and shortly thereafter received my DNA kit, swabbed my cheek, sent it back and have been waiting.

This afternoon I received an email from Ancestry letting me know the results are finally in.  I’ve been especially curious to see how they compare to FamilyTree DNA, which I took a couple years ago.  So far, I’m very impressed with’s very user-friendly interface.

Shown above is the graph of my 10-generation ancestry.  No surprises there – my English, German and Norwegian roots are well represented, and it’s a second confirmation through DNA studies that my family has no Native American ties.  (Near the end of her life my grandmother had insisted her father’s mother was Native American, but all records, as well as her own earlier notes, showed he was the product of Welch  New England ancestors.)

Close matches

My close matches – potential 4th-6th cousins

I was especially curious to see how many close matches I would have through Ancestry’s DNA.  I started off with five close matches (potential 4th-6th cousins) and 80 more distant cousins.  Unfortunately, none of my close matches have yet linked their Ancestry trees with their DNA results, so I will have to be patient a bit longer.  🙂


You can filter your DNA results by ethnicity

When viewing your DNA matches through, you can filter matches by ethnicity.  If I only wish to see those who also have Central European ties, I can click a link to see potential cousins.  Of course, some of these cousins may also have other matching ethnicities, but it is one way of reducing the list of matches if you are wishing to search for potential cousins by geographic location.

When clicking on one of the matches, I’m given a comparison of ethnicity with the potential cousin:

Match with DH

Ethnicity Comparison with “D.H.”

I will be anxious for my close matches to connect to their results to their trees. has made it really simple to identify surnames in common with your matches.  Here’s a screenshot that shows the tree and surnames displayed for another distant match:

Tree and surnames displayed for a potential match

While I don’t have any new leads or other earth-shattering discoveries on Day 1 of receipt of my DNA results, I am very impressed with the user interface, the ability to view connected family trees, and the ease in which one can filter results.  I am hopeful that Ancestry’s DNA database will grow, resulting in new leads and connections with cousins, and that FamilyTreeDNA may learn from’s design to make their own user portal a bit more user-friendly.

68 responses to “My (free) DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA

  • CeCe Moore

    I linked to your review from my blog post:
    Thanks for getting up such a quick review!

  • CeCe Moore

    Hi Again Lauren,
    Did you take the Family Finder test with FTDNA? If so, may I ask how many matches you have over there?

    • Lauren Mahieu

      I have 40 “distant” matches – which FTDNA is classifying as 2nd-5th cousins, and a total of about 190 speculative matches. I’ve been able to (almost) confirm a relationship to one potential cousin, but none others.

  • Elizabeth H.

    As an subscriber, I also was offered this free DNA testing last November. However, I have not gotten a reply email yet. If you received an email yesterday, I hope my email will arrive soon. This is my first exploration into DNA testing and I’m curious to see the results. Thanks for the great summary blog post.

  • Judith Scanlon

    Thank you for posting this information. I was very quick to jump on the free autosomal DNA test offer for the first 2000 existing Ancestry DNA test customers to respond, but nothing has shown up for me yet. However, between you and CeCe, I have a good idea what to expect. Thank you!

  • Albert Allen hulse

    I see the Beta page but so far no results. I have not received the email yet. It looks like they have a step that changes the page before the results are posted. Did you see that as well or had you not looked till the email came?

    • Judith Scanlon

      I see a Beta announcement and place to click for Beta feedback, but I do not have any autosomal results yet. When I am in my account and click on DNA and then DNA Tests, all I see is the mtDNA test I did back in 2008. There is no pending autosomal DNA test showing though I received confirmation a long time back that they received my order. Do you show a pending result for the Beta?


  • Lynn

    Same here. I was able to link my tree into my results, but my results aren’t showing. Also, I have to make a decision about my trees. I have one tree for my mother’s family and one tree for my father’s, but it looks like the DNA results only link to one tree…Am I strange for having two trees?

    • Lisa

      I’m still waiting for my results too. I can barely wait. I have a tree for my mom’s side and another for my dad’s side also. When I give my feedback, I’m going to mention that in hopes that they will let the results be linked to more than one tree at a time.

      • Sue

        March 15th and still waiting for my results too. I can link my DNA to my tree, but the DNA data is empty. I downloaded the excel sheets, but they do not contain data. It is a poor user-experiences in my opinion. It should say “Results Pending” or “Processing.” Right now, it appears as if there is an error…

      • Albert Allen hulse

        Today the web page changed format for me and I now have a line that says “In Process on 01/24/2012 “. I think that means they started the test then but the results still have not finished. Since they probably had to replicate the sample many times that was left from my origional test the amount of time required for that may vary depending on Y-DNA or MTDNA and how old the origional test was. Older tests may have degraded and that may cause some of them to need new samples.

      • Elizabeth H.

        Thank you for mentioning the change in the web page format. I just checked and when I click on the DNA tab at the top of the page, I see “In Process on 11/15/2011” and that is about the time they would have received my DNA sample. Boy, it sure is taking a long time.

      • Ken

        Well if you want to believe people who aren’t possibly related to you, are cousins that’s fine! However I believe in resarch. Their matches ( and there are a lot ) don’t match one single name in my family tree!

  • jq1517

    Thanks for posting about this. I looked at my results yesterday but was disappointed that my pedigree ethnicity was so different than my genetic ethnicity, enough to think perhaps there is a problem with my results. For instance, my results state that my genetic ethnicity is 91% British Isles, 6% Russian/Persian/Turkish, and 3% Other. This does not match my pedigree. My pedigree on both sides of parents is predominantly French, as most of my ancestors were French colonists of Canada, Acadia, and Louisiana. Out of the nearly 3,000 people in my family tree, I have none that are from the Russian/Persian/Turkish part of the world… that was a total surprise (although my surname is from southern Spain, perhaps there was a migration or something to that area from way back). Based on my pedigree, I would expect my genetic ethnicity to be around 50-60% Western or Southern Europe and the rest to be British Isles. I just find it really odd that I received no “hits” for Western Europe (France/Spain) given this is the predominant portion of my family tree. I sent feedback to Ancestry, but I was curious if anyone else has something similar to this or could anyone provide some insight for me?

    I just wonder if since most of my ancestry is from French colonists of North America, then perhaps they are confusing the results with the British colonists of North America? I had one person that was a 4th cousin match, and in fact we had some common ancestors. Based on their family tree, many of their ancestors were French Canadian and Louisianan as were mine and their results were 86% British Isles, 6% Southern European, and 8% Other… which again, seems kind of odd.

    • Albert Allen hulse

      Most of us can only trace a paper trail back a few hundred to maybe a thousand years. Our DNA is tracing our Ancestors back to befor the end of the last Ice age about 12,500 years ago. You trace your ancestors back to France and spain. That means they lived in the area of the kingdom of Charles the Bald. where the Danish Vikings raided around 860 to 870. Those same Danish Vikings from 866 to 954 raided the Kingdom of York, the Earldom of North Umbria and the Danish Mercia in the British Isles. Then between 1007 and 1013 Svein and Thorkell Conquered England and England was under the rule of the
      Danish Vikings. Does this help to understand why your DNA can show the Ethnicity of the British Isles? A good book to read might be the Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings if your local library has a copy.

    • Hey, you missed a spot!

      My results said 76% British Isles even though my grandfather was French Canadian. My mom’s mother’s family is Swiss/German and none of this showed up in the Ancestry test. It also claimed 12% African (split evenly between East and West – yay, that makes sense!) and there is no African ancestry in my family, at least not in the last 600 years. I call bs.

      • Alvin Collins

        You, perhaps, had a few light complexioned black ancestors (children of slave owners and black women),who passed for white , crossed the color line and married white spouses. Their African heritage was,thus, deliberately hidden and ultimately forgotten about. Only via DNA could the surprise pop up.

    • FrancesDezendorfRoberts

      I can’t wait to get my results back and compare them to yours. I, too, am Cajun and my grandmother’s name was Spanish, Segura.

    • Ken

      I had a similar result. Most of my relatives are from Northern Germany my one grandmother was from what is now Romania. Yet they told me I am predominantly from the British Isles with a smack of Eastern European. They have sent me “matches” that share nothing with my background. I am very disappointed.

      • Alvin Collins

        I got my results back from 2 weeks ago. I am 57% West African, 41% British Isles and 2% uncertain. This is largely what I expected, as I have a sizable quantity of well documented British ancestry.However, what did not show up, are my well documented 17th century ancestors from the Netherlands and Flanders, along with a small quantity of Native American ancestors. These ancestors probably make up the uncertain 2%. I can ,perfectly understand why. Because the amount of their DNA is so small that itt just did not register. Also, you must bear in mind that WHOLE SIBLINGS WITH THE SAME MOTHER AND FATHER can have different DNA.

  • autosomal DNA test – Part II thin – genejourneys

    […] presents more questions.  Yesterday jq1517 posted the following comment in response to  My (free) DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA:  I looked at my results yesterday but was disappointed that my pedigree ethnicity was so […]

  • autosomal DNA test – Part II – genejourneys

    […] presents more questions.  Yesterday jq1517 posted the following comment in response to  My (free) DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA:  I looked at my results yesterday but was disappointed that my pedigree ethnicity was so […]

  • CeCe Moore

    If any of you who have received your results could share a couple screen grabs from your account with me for a presentation that I am giving on Thursday, I would really appreciate it. I had hoped to receive my results in time, but no luck! I would, of course, anonymize all info before using, like I have on my blog. If anyone is willing, please send to

    • Judith Scanlon


      Nothing has come in for me yet. A fiend got his 2 days ago and they used the sample from his mtDNA test that he did several years ago. Mine is also mtDNA, from 2008 so I guess it was still viable as I have not been asked to submit a new sample. He received a email notification from Ancestry when his results came in. Anyway, if I had results I would share them with you for your presentation. Sorry! I hope your presentation goes well.


  • barbara piwetz

    March 24th and still no results. I have a line on the DNA page that says “In Process on 11/30/2011. I have connected the non-received results to my tree and am given a place to provide feedback on my non-received results. Not sure why some people who submitted later are getting their results back sooner?

    • nolnacsj


      My “in-process” date is the end of January even though I know I was one of the first 2000 to respond (before they offered kits to the next 10,000 to respond), and I have received no results to date. I am disappointed that Ancestry does not list batch numbers or estimated completions dates like they do on FTDNA. So, still waiting…..I bet they are waiting for National DNA Day of something. Is so, that is April 20th. Anyway, I share your frustration.

  • CeCe Moore

    I just posted on my blog about my recent conference calls with the AncestryDNA team:

  • JJ

    I received an email telling me I have results in but can’t find anything new!! I’m so frustrated!!! How and where are the new testa located in our accounts?? (Note: I had my mtDNA test and my dad’s Y and mtDNA tests done in the past, and I had his third mtDNA results participate in the full-blown testing group and paid for shipping a new swab kit to me for just the ethnic group test group.)

    • JMB

      JJ, I received the same email on April 1, and I have no results yet either. I feel like all the people at Ancestry are saying “April Fools!” I sent them “Feedback”, but I haven’t gotten a reply.

      • CeCe Moore

        I just received my mother’s results. I just looked and they were there even though I did not receive an email notification. It says they were completed on Feb 14th, which is strange since they weren’t there yesterday.

      • JJ

        My results did show up the next day, but I had had my dad’s mtDNA sample on file with included in the beta test, plus I purchased a new test for myself when the second invitation was extended.

        When i viewed the results, I thought they were my dad’s…52% Scandinavian (His Hebridean and Argyll Scottish lines who could be construed as Scandinavian?), 30% Southern European maybe from his 2nd great-granddad’s Jewish side (Sephardic?) and 12% Middle Eastern (more of the Jewish side?). It seemed off, but we read the results could change dramatically as they refine the matching,one though the example they suggested indicated more subtle adjustments…I also understood the amount of DNA inherited from each parent could vary a lot as to which and how much of each grandparent’s DNA one gets…

        I was really, really anxious, though, to know where the link to my sample was…Would it just show up?? I had emailed several times and been reassured his sample and my new one were both being included in the results.

        Never-the-less, I called the ancestrydna customer support the day after getting his results, and the guy had to talk to the other folks there. Turns out they hadn’t seen anyone with two samples, such as my situation, and there was a bug. The results I saw were mine (my mom’s half Spanish) and my dad’s sample had been associated with a default, basic account, as is done with customers who have not existing account. His sample as shows a 1/24/2012 activation date, and what I am guessing is they had to work out how to transfer existing samples to perform the new testing and such, while new samples were easily processed. Or perhaps they got excited to begin processing the easiest samples to get more feedback sooner, rather than focus on samples they already possessed.

        Either way, where in the world would I get 52% Scandinavian??? I have a great-great-granddad from Normandy and some way back ancestors from the Hebrides and Argyll (the Vikings controlled those area for a long time), but there would have to be some spectacular statistical miracles for me that pure Viking dna to over and over and over be passed down in entirety to my dad and my mom…We have Irish (Northern Protestant and Catholic, lowland Scots, French from other regions, German from Saarbruecken, possible Welsh, English, southern Native American (great-great-grandmother who was ashamed and wouldn’t tell which tribe(s)…And none of these show up!

        I let know, and I hope they are taking the feedback seriously. We need to let them know of our backgrounds, in case it might help them pinpoint the places where matching is not as accurate as it should/could be.

        And the tests they’re doing may indeed show us some deep origins of dna in our families, but statistically, my results should show more variation. Especially because right now it appears I inherited 42% of my maternal dna from her Spanish mother. That means 8% from her dad’s side. My maternal granddad was 50% ancestrally French from Normandy and Ile-de-France, 25% from Saarbruecken, and 25% Irish, Maybe I got 8% of his Norman side. But my other 50% from my dad? I have no idea how I could get 50% Scandinavian from him as well. LOL

        Ah, I guess we can watch and see how they’re refinements go! Oh, and I did receive a 2nd email alerting me that my results were in a week later. I thought maybe a new refinement was being presented! Nope. Just a random alert
        email. Guess all their systems are being honed. 🙂

        Thanks again to everyone who responded to my first post. I can’t wait to read more about what ya’ll experience and find works/needs work. 😉


    • CeCe Moore

      Jenny, that is interesting that they told you that they had not seen an account with two samples because I have two in my account and received both results before you did. They were correctly loaded and I was able to attach both to my tree correctly. The Scandinavian thing is a whole other subject. You have probably read the blogs about it by now. 🙂
      Glad you got it all worked out anyway.

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  • Debra Langley

    Maternal Dna. They say that your dna is the same as your mom. That doesn’t make since if they test to see who the father is, does it? a female gets none of the dna of the father, or does his mother to mother line is part of his daughters. I am confused about that. if the male has both, why don’t you get the dna of him that’s not from the y chromosome?

    • LisaE

      Everyone has DNA from both parents. It’s the mitochondrial DNA that you only get from your mother.

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  • Susan Shipley

    My test says I am 51 percent Scandinavian and 49 percent British Isles. I have a well-documented genealogy with virtually all of my ancestors coming from the British Isles, with the exception of a Native American ggg-grandmother (which wasn’t even detected).

    I am aware that the Vikings colonized many parts of the British Isles beginning in the 8th century, and I can certainly accept that I have some Scandinavian ancestors, but not half. Is AncestryDNA also categorizing the Anglo Saxons, who invaded the British Isles in the 5th century, Scandinavian? They came from Denmark, originally. This is needlessly confusing, because the Anglo-Saxons have been in the British Isles for 1600 years, and created the language, English.
    Ancestry DNA needs to specify which markers it is using to declare someone “Scandinavian,” etc.


    Hello, my name is tammy cocagne and i am trying to find out how much cherokee indian i am however, i cant afford to pay for a testing kit. I wanted to inquire about a free test kit and results. Is this a possibility? Please reply. Thank you,
    Tammy Renee “Tucker” Cocagne

  • marie

    I just sent into for the DNA. From research I have read you have two tree’s the one on paper and your genetic tree. Genes actually dilute as you go further back, and you may not always inherit all of your ancestral genes. So the test to my intrepretation is the DNA you have actually inherited, it may not include all of your ancestors. You may even have genes inheritated from 1,000 years ago. My paper tree is done back 500 years, so I am curious as to what genes I have picked up through these years. I am on paper French, German, Czech, and English. So it should be interesting to see what else pops up.

  • Julian A. Lacey

    Thanks for your review. I recently sent in my DNA sample and I am waiting to get my results. If you wouldn’t mind sharing, how long did it take to process your results in the lab? Thanks, Julian

  • fran

    Hello. I received my results three days ago. From what I understand, autosomal testing only goes back about five generations. So, I am confused concerning why Scandinavian is showing up for so many people? (My own ethnicities made sense in terms of my knowledge of my recent family history. I tested as European Jewish and eastern European.)

    I wish they would give more of a scientific explanation concerning how they arrive at each “ethnicity.”

    • Lori Cook Underwood

      I totally agree with your statement that they need to clarify what they consider each ethnicity. My immediate lineage is of the following: German, Irish, English, Scottish, French, Slovak, Hungarian, Croatian, and Native Cherokee. My results showed 93% British Isles and 7% Persian. Really??? I have tons of German, French, Cherokee and Slovak in the current 4 generations of my tree and nothing was passed to me. Very strange and makes me question the validity and control of this particular test. I already have results from an mtDNA test that show everything I already knew. Something is seriously wrong with this test and I pray it gets “upgrades” quickly as they fix things.

      • DME

        You get 50% of your DNA from each parent. Your lineage may reflect various ancestry but your DNA may reflect a small amount. Ireland, Scotland and Britain are probably the main DNA portions that you inherited, as reflected on the 93%British Isles. All those other ethnicities you claim are “immedate” may simply not be reflected in your DNA. That doesnt mean they arent part of you.

  • Kelly Griffin

    Hi Lauren,
    It’s funny, 7 months after your test I have similar results. I just got my results today and they say I am 100% British Isle descendant. I see from your post people you could be related to and most of them are on my list as well. I have known that most of my tree comes from the British Isles, but always thought that others came from Germany, France, Luxembourg. Knowing of the invasions and settlers, I am curious as to the differential of people from central Europe, i.e. the countries named above and what DNA they left in the Isles. Would love your opinion.

  • kathy k

    My results and many others seem to have excessive amounts of British Isle Connections. My Jewish friend had a test that said they found no Jewish ancestry…he was mostly British Isles, he is named Ira, his grandfather was Ira and his great-grandfather was Jacob…
    My 100% Italian second cousin came out 37% European Jewish, also Turkish and Persian. Really?
    I think this test is not a very good or reliable way of checking your ethnic background. It did show the relationship between me and my cousin though. I give this test a C-. They need more test subjects…and more research.

  • DME

    Your review was ok, but I doubt your test was “free.” No one receved a free test, but some received invitations before others.

    • Jenny

      Some of us were able to upgrade our existing DNA tests for free, through an offer to use the samples they already had for us in their storage facilities. That was before they offered any user the opportunity to order a free test if shipping was paid.

    • CeCe Moore

      @DME – Actually, it was completely free to the first 2000. I was one of them as was Lauren.

      • nolnacsj

        Mine was fee also. It was free to the first 2000 existing customers. Then they offered it free to the first 10,000 existing Ancestry customers before they began charging 99.00. Now it is available to everyone but the price has gone up.

      • Ken

        I paid $100 for mine, although I was “invited” and told this was a special price for the first 2000! I got it for myself as a birthday present. I am very very disappointed. Most of the people they have matched me to ( and there are a lot ) have their trees marked “private” and don’t want to share. What’s the point, in doing research, if you are not willing to share? Mine is public to all!

      • Flutterbye

        Agreed. I had high hopes and low on luck and expected great things. I paid the “special” price November 2012 and have hundreds of matches. I think basically if you have someone from Ireland you are matched to everyone else that has an ancestor in Ireland.

  • jackie smith

    I have found not one person from the dna results that was related to me…Free must mean you get nothing if it is free…I was never able to have a conversation with ancestry help..only mail not deliverable .what was i paying for..they dictate where we can find information but offer no help unless you pay more…The only information i received from them was reserseach i found myself and then l day latter they provided me with the same information… What magicians you are….abbra cadabra

    • JJ

      It matched me and my father (of course!), a 3rd cousin to me, some 4th-6th cousins, plus I’ve found some people in my distant relationship categories. And there indeed are people my dad matches that I do not. Might not be perfect, but I think some people will have more matches as the database of samples grows. I do find more matches on my dad’s side, which has been in the US since at least the late 1600s/early 1700s. I have few matches on my mother’s Canary Islander/Spanish and French side, which has been relatively isolated SE of New Orleans for 200 years.

    • Jen

      mine wasn’t free. I was on a waiting list for 7 months (April-November) and let my usual guard down and didn’t even check what I was supposed to get and I got nothing.

  • Mira

    I would like to know, what does it mean to have middle-eastern blood %, is it more from the Arab side or Israelite side?

    • JJ

      It probably means your have areas of DNA consistent with the “general” population of the Middle Eastern samples they are using as a basis for comparison. They likely are not yet able to differentiate between which “type” of Semitic/Middle Eastern origin you represent. Since the Jewish population today is diverse, I don’t believe the ethnic profile tests are able to tell you what part of your Middle Eastern heritage is “Arab” vs. “Israelite.” I bet they would need to have a huge amount of data to feel confident enough to draw those conclusions, and as they say, they *are* working on accumulating more and more samples in order to be able to develop their set of tools. When they have more samples and more results to exam, they may be able to point to that level of specificity. *know wood* 🙂 On the other hand, the DNA tests that look for “deep ancestry”, such as those that ID your haplotype/haplogoups, may look in males for certain markers to ID people with Kohanim lineage, but in women they would look to see if the mother’s haplotype group/sub-group has been identified, at least in some larger percentage, with a Jewish population. That doesn’t mean, though, they men or women who don’t fall into those groups wouldn’t necessarily have Jewish heritage. The tests can only match people’s heritage to groups if they have been able to separate by unique markers/results that are affiliated with those groups. It’s like the saying, “All thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs.” As for these family-finder type tests, they appear to examine different regions, i.e. those known to indicate familial relations. There’s a huge field of forensic science interested in this, and these regions being tested don’t seem to be focusing on identifying ethnic backgrounds. I know I have matched quite a few more recent and some distant cousins based on our family trees, but we don’t always share *any* ethnic groups. One 3rd-4th cousin I already knew got her results, we matched, and we had no ethnic groups in common. I am guessing they must examine different regions and/or parts of our DNA to identify familial relations vs. the regions that they look at for determining (to the best of their existing research) ethnic profiles… We are their guinea pigs, so to say, hence some of the great deals some of us have taken advantage of. Just have to keep providing them with feedback, and if you don’t hear from them via email, please call. I did once, and I got a really nice, knowledgeable guy on the phone who was taking meticulous notes (judging by the questions he asked), and I was satisfied when we ended the call. We really do need to help them as much as *we* can to help them figure out when/where/if there’s something that needs tweaking. That’s why we’re guinea pigs! 🙂

  • Ancestry

    I’m interested to see some mergers between the big players in the genetic database space to really give some serious insights. Time will tell.

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  • B morin

    How to join free autosomal DNA test…I look Scandinavian and Irish, wanna know more! Thx.

  • J. Norman

    After reading all of your posts, I wish I hadn’t even took the test. Everyone seems so disappointed and it sounds as if the results are a guess at best. I ask Ancestry if we received a certificate of some kind stating our ethnicity, of course they said no. I really wonder now just how accurate they might be and I am wishing there was some place to go to have accurate registered tests done, test that you know are accurate and the test takers certify their results. If anyone knows of such a place, please let me know. I would rather pay more money and have an accurate test done, than to have a reasonable hit and miss. I contacted our local hospital lab, hoping they might know of a testing agency but they acted like they didn’t even know what I was talking about. I think it is a joke that an agency that is based on ethnicity can not provide us with certified results. Science now knows, more than ever, about our DNA and how to pinpoint the exact results. Other DNA tests are usually 99.9 %, why can’t we have that kind of accuracy? I am afraid I am going to really regret this whole process. I feel so sad about something I was initially so excited about.

    • SandyQ

      I just sent my test in last week, and I am nervous also. Now I’m not so sure about how much of my test will be accurate. It says lab processing from my test on the website. Have you gotten your results back yet?

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