TellMeGen review: Heavy on DNA-driven health results, but light on ancestry

With more and more demand for affordable home DNA testing, the field of available tests keeps growing. Some offer more specialized results or the ability to purchase only the testing categories you desire, while others might undercut the bigger-name kits on price.

TellMeGen claims to offer the complete package, with both health/medical testing and ancestry results at a single purchase price. However, in practice, the service is clearly focused much more on the former than the latter, providing a long list of health traits and medical conditions with ample detail… and then barely scratching the surface with its simplistic ancestry results.

Note: This review is part of our best DNA test kit roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

DNA collection

You’ll need to mail in a saliva sample for TellMeGen to analyze your DNA. Here’s what is in the kit:

  • Saliva collection tube with DNA stabilizing solution
  • Funnel top
  • Plastic clamshell casing
  • Prepaid return label
  • Instructions

Collecting a sizable-enough sample for TellMeGen means spitting into the included plastic tube over and over again until you fill it to the line (not including bubbles). It took me a few solid minutes of conjuring up fluids to meet the quota, but at least it’s a straightforward request.

tellmegen testing Andrew Hayward

Instructions walk you through the saliva collection process. Be careful when swapping between the collection tube’s original cap and funnel cap! 

Having to unscrew the cap, screw on the funnel cap, and then unscrew the funnel and replace the original cap before mailing adds extra potential for fumbling the tube and potentially losing the free-floating stabilizing solution—so be careful with it. It’s not as clever as 23andMe’s tube, which has its solution sealed in the funnel cap and releases it into your saliva sample when you securely close it.

Speed

TellMeGen estimates that results will be available within four to six weeks of receiving the sample. I registered an account and my kit when preparing the sample, but did not receive any kind of email alert that my results were available. Five weeks after sending the sample, I logged into my account and found that the kit actually was not tied to the account, despite completing that step during initial registration.

Luckily, when I registered the kit again, the results were already available. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly how long it took due to the kit registration mishap, but the turnaround still fell within the estimated window. Comparatively, I sent 23andMe and AncestryDNA samples back at the same time, and received results from both services in just over two weeks.

Results

TellMeGen is an autosomal DNA test, much like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and other popular tests, which analyzes the 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes besides the X and Y sex chromosomes. According to the company, it can analyze more than 655,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—or DNA sequence variations—used to track biological differences as well as shared connections to relatives.