ACI 506.2-13, “Specification for Shotcrete,” is an excellent resource for answering your questions. ACI 506.2 addresses both preconstruction panels and test panels used for material quality control during construction. ACI 506.2, Section 18.104.22.168, requires that when preconstruction panels are required, the Contractor shall “Construct test panels for each proposed shotcrete mixture, each anticipated orientation, and each proposed nozzleman.” Preconstruction test panels vary in size to adequately represent the embedded reinforcement and section thicknesses in the work to be done.
Test panels shot during construction for evaluation of material properties are covered in ACI 506.2, Section 22.214.171.124, which states: “Construct a test panel for each mixture, each nozzleman, and each work day or for every 50 yd3 (38 m3) placed—whichever results in the most panels. The face dimensions of a test panel shall be a minimum of 16 x 16 in. (406 x 406 mm) with a minimum depth of 5 in. (127 mm). For toughness testing in accordance with ASTM C1550, the face dimension shall be 30.5 in. (775 mm) in diameter and 3 in. (76 mm) thick. Shoot test panels in a vertical orientation only unless otherwise specified.”
ACI 506.2-13 has extensive provisions for the submittals, testing, materials, and execution of shotcrete work by a shotcrete contractor. It cites many of the ASTM testing standards appropriate for shotcrete construction. We recommend you review the document in its entirety to become familiar with current industry standards.