ASTM C1140/C1140M-11, “Standard Practice for Preparing and Testing Specimens from Shotcrete Test Panels,” is the appropriate ASTM standard for producing and coring test panels. ASTM C1140 specifies panel size as a minimum of 24 x 24 in. (610 x 610 mm) with a minimum 3.5 in. (89 mm) depth. Without more information on the materials used in the shotcrete and the type of shotcrete, it is impossible to identify what may be causing the lower compressive strength tests.
The compressive strength should increase between 7 and 28 days on a curve equivalent to cast concrete. Strength degradation between 7 and 28 days may be a result of poor shotcrete application or problems with coring or curing of the samples.