An improved cartridge for holding a fluid sample with a small volume is disclosed herein. The cartridge has a test chamber and a vestibule through which the test fluids are inserted into the test chamber. Improved grips are flared-out to aid manipulation. The handle portion is reinforced to prevent flexing, and a prefabricated trough along the edge of the land surface prevents introduction of the adhesive into the region for analysis. The cartridge has a stopper having a dual sealing mechanism, which seals the test chamber inlet between the vestibule and the test chamber, and the mouth of the vestibule so that when the stopper is in place, the test chamber is closed to the admission of air or other contaminants. The vestibule is similarly closed against escape of the overflow from the test chamber. The stopper is composed of a single elastomer. An improved locking mechanism has two flexible walls on either side of the handhold that locks into their respective keepers on the cartridge to provide a secure lock. Additionally, an improved method for loading the cartridge allows for an even distribution of magnetically responsive particles contained within a fluid sample to be viewed in an array through the optically clear land surface portion of the cartridge.