Test Line Darker Than Control Line on Home Pregnancy Test

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

Whether it’s a positive or negative experience for you, there is nothing more earth-shattering than the moment you see those two little blue lines.

You’ll likely be frantic to confirm the positive test results, so it’s important to understand what a positive pregnancy test looks like. 

Why is the test line darker than the control line? A darker control line on a home pregnancy test means that there is a high level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). This is indicative of a positive pregnancy result. A dark test line likely means that you are further along than you assumed, or it can be a sign of a multiple pregnancy.

Keep reading to learn more about how pregnancy tests work and what it looks like when you receive a positive result.

Pregnancy Test Lines

When reading a pregnancy test, it’s important to understand how the test functions, what causes the lines to appear, and what those lines mean. 

Control Line

The control line is the first line that appears on a pregnancy test. It’s typically darker and develops immediately upon soaking the tip in urine.

This line indicates that the test is working properly. When the control line is not present, the results of the test should be dismissed, and a new test should be taken. 

Test Line

The test line is the second line that appears on a pregnancy test. It’s usually the fainter of the two and develops within a few minutes of soaking the tip in urine.

When this line appears, no matter how faint, it means a positive result. When the test line is not present, it means that either you are not pregnant or there is not enough HCG in your urine to determine pregnancy.

What a Positive Result Usually Looks Like

If the second line, otherwise known as the test line, shows up, it means that you are pregnant. It does not matter how faint the line is.

The only exception to this rule is when the control line is not visible or the test line is colorless. 

Pregnancy Test: First Line Dark, Second Line Faint

A dark first line alongside a faint second line typically indicates pregnancy.

The second line is faint when there isn’t a high concentration of HCG in your urine. This can occur when you’re early on in your pregnancy.

Why Test Line May Be Darker Than Control Line

There are a few reasons why the test line may be darker than the control line.

The transparency of the line is determined by the level of HCG present in the urine. Lower amounts result in a faint line whereas higher quantities result in a darker line.

High levels of HCG can mean that you’re further along in your pregnancy than you may have anticipated. It can also be an indication of twins or multiples.

Immediate Dark Positive Pregnancy Test

If your test immediately yields a dark secondary line, it likely means that you’re further along than the standard week 4-8 window where most women find out.

You can call your doctor and request a dating ultrasound scan to get a more accurate measurement of how far along you are.

It could also mean that your HCG levels are higher due to pregnancy with multiples. 

Does Dark Line on Pregnancy Test Mean High HCG?

Yes, a dark line on a pregnancy test means that there was a high concentration of HCG in your urine. HCG is a pregnancy hormone responsible for maintaining pregnancy in the early stages. 

Does Test Line Darker Than Control Line Mean Twins? 

If you’re pregnant with multiples, you will have higher HCG levels at each stage compared to singleton pregnancies. That means that a home pregnancy test will pick up higher concentrations of HCG and produce a darker line.

With that said, a darker line doesn’t always mean that there are multiple babies in utero. 

Faint Line on Pregnancy Test Gets Darker After 10 Minutes

One of the most important things to remember with home pregnancy tests is that you have to use them according to the instructions to provide an accurate result.

This means checking your pregnancy test within the given time frame, which is usually around 10 minutes.

After this point, evaporation lines can appear from the urine sitting too long. This faint line leads to the misinterpretation of a positive, also known as a false positive. 

How To Take a Pregnancy Test Correctly 

Two hands holding an opened pregnancy test above a table.

While taking a pregnancy test can seem intimidating, there are a few steps you can take to improve test accuracy

  • Wait until the morning to take a pregnancy test. This is when urine has the highest concentration of HCG.
  • Read the instructions step by step. Read the instructions prior to doing the pregnancy test.
  • Double-check your timing. Make sure to note the time needed to pee on the stick as well as when to interpret the results. 
  • Try the cup method. Pee into a small disposable cup and soak the tip that way. This gives you better control of timing how long the tip is in urine and is less messy than your urine stream. 

How To Avoid Common Mistakes

Here are the most common mistakes made when taking a home pregnancy test and how to avoid them: 

  • Don’t drink too much water. Doing so can dilute your urine, thereby diluting the HCG concentration within it. 
  • Don’t assume the timing. Not all pregnancy tests have the same testing window. Read the instructions carefully to know how long each step of the testing process takes. 
  • Don’t overcook the stick. Oversoaking the stick can cause the test to malfunction. Make sure the plastic body of the test doesn’t touch the urine. The tip of the test is absorbent, so you don’t need to drown it.
  • If you have a test on hand, make sure you check the expiration date. Most pregnancy tests are good for one or two years after purchase.
  • Buy a test that fits your budget. There are two main styles of tests — digital and non-digital. Digital tests are more expensive and offer clearer results.
  • Buy a test that fits your needs. If you are testing before or during your missed period, you may need to pick up an early detection test.  

How Soon Will a Pregnancy Test Read Positive? 

It’s important to read pregnancy test results in accordance with their directions. For most tests, you will have to wait a minimum of 3 minutes.

Depending on the concentration of HCG in your urine, your pregnancy test could read positive immediately or after just a few minutes. Higher concentrations will show up faster than lower ones. 

Some home pregnancy tests are marketed specifically for the speed of their results, like the First Response Rapid Result Pregnancy Test

How To Read Pregnancy Test Results

For non-digital tests, the results are read as either one or two lines. One line indicates there is no pregnancy, whereas two lines indicate a positive pregnancy.

No matter how faint that second line is, its presence means that you are pregnant.

If the control line is absent, however, then the test is not properly functioning, and a new one must be taken.

For digital tests, interpreting results is as easy as reading the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant.”

The digital tests will inform you of a test malfunction via some sort of symbol correlating with the instructions. 

Related Questions:

Is It Better To Dip or Pee on a Pregnancy Test? 

It’s better to dip your pregnancy test in a cup of urine. This is more precise than running the stick under your urine stream. It offers control over the timing and submersion of the tip. 

What Can Make a Pregnancy Test Less Accurate? 

Several factors can affect the accuracy of your results. This includes the time of your cycle when the test is taken, the age of the test, the time of day you take the test, and whether the directions were followed precisely.


Pregnancy tests are designed to detect pregnancy based on the quantity of HCG levels in urine. When high HCG levels are detected, the test line will appear darker and faster than lower quantities of HCG.

So long as two lines are present and the directions were followed, the pregnancy test is positive.