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This document has been approved for use by agencies of the Department of Defense and for listing in the

DOD Index of Specifications and Standards.

Recommended Practice for Evaluation of Strength Test Results of Concrete (ACI 214-77)*
(Reapproved 1997)
Reported by ACI Committee 214
V. M. M A L H O T R A




Statistical procedures provide valuable tools for assessing results of strength tests, and such an approach is also of value in refining design criteria and specifications. The report discusses briefly the numerous variations that occur in the strength of concrete and presents statistical procedures which are useful in interpreting these variations.
Keywords: coefficient of variation: compression tests: compressive strength; concrete construction: concretes: cylinders: evaluation; quality control; sampling; standard deviation; statistical analysis; variations.

2 Chapter I-Introduction ...................................................... 2 Chapter 2-Variations in strength .............................................
2.1-General 2.2-Properties of concrete 3.1-Notation 3.2-General 3.3-Statistical functions 2.3-Testing methods

Chapter 3-Analysis of strength data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

3.4-Strength variations 3.5-Standards of control

Chapter 4-Criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4. l-General 4.2-Criteria for strength requirements 4.3-Additional information

. . . . .
4.4-Quality control charts 4.5-Tests and specimens required 4.6-Rejection of doubtful specimens

Chapter 5-References . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

*Adopted as a standard of the American Concrete Institute in August 1977, to supercede ACI 214-65, in accordance with the Institutes standardization procedure. This recommended practice for evaluation of strength test results has been developed from data derived from tests performed on concrete limited to a compressive strength of 6000 psi or less. Whairman during development of the revision.

C%.@yyrightl976, American Concrete Institute. All rights reserved including rights of reproduction and use in any form or by any means, including the making of copies by any photo process, or by any electronic or mechanical device, printed, written, or oral, or recording for sound or visual reproduction or for use in any knowledge or retrieval system or device, unless permission in writing is obtained from the copyright proprietors.

The purposes of strength tests of concrete are to determine compliance with a strength specification and to measure the variability of concrete. Concrete, being a hardened mass of heterogeneous materials, is subject to the influence of numerous variables. Characteristics of each of the ingredients of concrete, depending on their variability, may cause variations in strength of concrete. Variations may also be introduced by practices used in proportioning, mixing, transporting, placing, and curing. In addition to the variations which exist in concrete itself, test strength variations will also be introduced by the fabrication, testing, and treatment of test specimens. Variations in the strength of concrete must be accepted, but concrete of adequate quality can be produced with confidence if proper control is maintained, test results are properly interpreted, and their limitations are considered. Proper control is achieved by the use of satisfactory materials, correct batching and mixing of these materials, correct batching and mixing of sired quality, and good practices in transporting, placing, curing, and testing. Although the complex nature of concrete precludes complete homogeneity, excessive variation of concrete strength signifies inadequate concrete control. Improvement in control may permit a reduction in the cost of concrete since the average strength can be brought closer to specification requirements. Strength is not necessarily the most critical factor in proportioning concrete mixes since other factors, such as durability, may impose lower water-cement ratios than are required to meet strength requirements. In such cases, strength will of necessity be in excess of structural demands. Nevertheless, strength tests are valuable in such circumstances since, with established mix proportions, variations in strength are indicative of variations in other properties. Test specimens indicate the potential rather than the actual strength of the concrete in a structure. To be meaningful, conclusions on strength of concrete must be derived from a pattern of tests from which the characteristics of the concrete can be estimated with reasonable accuracy. Insufficient tests will result in unreliable conclusions. Statistical procedures provide tools of considerable value in evaluating results of strength tests and information derived from such procedures is also of value in refining design criteria and specifications. This report briefly discusses variations that occur in the strength of concrete, and presents statistical procedures that are useful in the interpretation of these variations with respect to required criteria and specifications. For these statistical procedures to be valid, the data must be derived from samples obtained by means of a random sampling plan designed to reduce the possibility that choice will be exercised by the sampler. Random sampling means that each possible sample has an equal chance of being selected. To insure this condition, the choice must be made by some objective mechanism such as a table of random numbers. If sample batches are selected by the sampler on the basis of his own judgment, biases are likely to be introduced that will invalidate results analyzed by the procedures presented here. Reference 1 contains a discussion of random sampling and a useful short table of random numbers. Additional information on the meaning and use of this recommended practice is given in Realism in the Application of A C I Standard 214-65? This volume is a compilation of information on ACI 214-65 that was presented at a symposium held at Buffalo, N. Y., in 1971. In addition to the papers from the symposium, it includes reprints of some pertinent papers that were published earlier in the ACI JOURNAL, and of discussion that resulted from them. Although the information given was based on ACI 214-65, most of it is still relevant. An additional source of material on evaluation of strength tests is ACI Bibliography No. 2, published in 1960.s



The magnitude of variations in the strength of concrete test specimens depends on how well the materials, concrete manufacture, and testing are controlled. Differences in strength can be traced to two fundamentally different sources as shown in Table 2.1: (a) differences in strength-produc2

ing properties of the concrete mixture and ingredients, and (b) apparent differences in strength caused by variations inherent in the testing.
2.2-Properties of concrete

It is well established that strength is governed to a large extent by the water-cement ratio. The ACI STANDARD

TABLE 2.I-PRINCIPAL SOURCES OF STRENGTH VARIATION Variations in the properties of concrete


Discrepancies in testing methods Improper sampling procedures

Changes in water-cement ratio: Poor control of water Excessive variation of moisture in aggregate Retempering

mixtures used, since each will contribute to variations in the concrete strength. The temperature of fresh concrete influences the amount of water needed to achieve the proper consistency and consequently contributes to strength variation. Construction practices may cause variations in strength due to inadequate mixing, poor compaction, delays, and improper curing. Not all of these are reflected in specimens fabricated and stored under standard conditions. The use of admixtures adds another factor since each admixture adds another variable to concrete. The batching of accelerators, retarders, pozzolans, and air-entraining agents must be carefully controlled.
2.3-Testing methods

Variations in water require- Variations due to fabricament: tion techniques Aggregate grading, abHandling and curing of sorption, particle shape newly made cylinders Cement and admixture Poor quality molds properties Air content Delivery time and temperature Variations in characteristics Changes in curing: and proportions of ingreTemperature variation dients: Variable moisture Aggregates Delays in bringing cylinCement ders to the laboratory Pozzolans Admixtures Variations in transporting, placing, and compaction Variations in temperature and curing Poor testing procedures: Cylinder capping Compression tests

first criterion for producing concrete of constant strength, therefore, is a constant water-cement ratio. Since the quantity of cement and added water can be measured accurately, the problem of maintaining a constant water-cement ratio is primarily one of correcting for the variable quantity of free moisture in aggregates. The homogeneity of concrete is influenced by the variability of the aggregates, cement, and ad-

Concrete tests may or may not include all the variations in strength of concrete in place depending on what variables have been introduced after test specimens were made. On the other hand, discrepancies in sampling, fabrication curing, and testing of specimens may cause indications of variations in strength which do not exist in the concrete in the structure. The project is unnecessarily penalized when variations from this source are excessive. Good testing methods will reduce these variations, and standard testing procedures such as those described in ASTM standards should be followed without deviation. The importance of using accurate testing machines and producing thin, high-strength, plane, parallel caps should need no emphasis since test results can be no more accurate than the equipment and procedures used. Uniform test results are not necessarily accurate test results. Laboratory equipment and procedures should be calibrated and checked periodically.


3.1-Notation da and = factors for computing within-test standard deviation from average range lldz fcr = required average strength to assure that no more than the permissible proportion of tests will fall below specified strength fc = specified strength - number of tests x = range En = maximum for average range used in control charts for moving average for range

= average range = standard deviation - within-test standard deviation - batch-to-batch standard deviation - a constant multiplier for standard de-

viation (0.) that depends on the number of tests expected to fall below f: coefficient of variation within-test coefficient of variation an individual test result average of test results

kgf /cm2
199 I 183 I 197 I 211 I 225 I 239 I 253 I 267 I 281 I 295 I 209 I 323 I

68.27% _----c--_--4 r=---r-----T I I




Fig. 3.3(a)-Frequency distribution of strength data

and corresponding normal distribution

3.3-Statistical functions

3.2-General To obtain maximum information, a sufficient number of tests should be made to indicate the variation in the concrete produced and to permit appropriate statistical procedures to be used in interpreting the test results. Statistical procedures provide the best basis for determining from such results the potential quality and strength of the concrete and for expressing results in the most useful form.

kgf/cm2 I 169

197 225

263 261


337 366 394

The strength of concrete test specimens on controlled projects can be assumed to fall into a pattern similar to the normal frequency distribution curve illustrated in Fig. 3.3 (a). Where there is good control, the strength values will be bunched close to the average, and the curve will be tall and narrow. As the variations in strength increase, the values spread- and the curve becomes low and elongated, as illustrated by the idealized curves shown in Fig. 3.3 (b) . Because the characteristics of such curves can be defined mathematically, certain useful functions of the strength can be calculated as follows: 3.3.1 Average, X-The average strength of all individual tests

Q s 340 PSI (23.9 kgf/c.m2)



T= 550 psi (39.4 k&b?-)

2000 2400 2600 3200 3600 4000 4400 4600 5200 5600 6( Compressive strength, psi

Fig. 3.3(b)-Normal frequency curves for different standard deviations 4

Where X1, X2, X3 . . . X, are the strength results of individual tests and n is the total number of tests made. A test is defined as the average strength of all specimens of the same age fabricated from a sample taken from a single batch of concrete. 3.3.2 Standard deviation, a-The most generally recognized measure of dispersion is the root-meansquare deviation of the strengths from their average. This statistic is known as the standard deviation and may be considered to be the radius of gyration about the line of symmetry of the

area under the curve of the frequency distribution of strength data, such as that shown in Fig. 3.3 (a). The best estimate of CI, based on a finite amount of data, is obtained by Eq. (3-2)) or by its algebraic equivalent, Eq. (3-2a). The latter equation is preferable for computation purposes, because it is not only simpler and more adaptable to desk calculators, but it avoids the possibility of trouble due to rounding errors.

TABLE 3.4.1 l-FACTORS FOR COMPUTING WITHINTEST STANDARD DEVIATION* Number of specimens 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

1.128 1.693 2.059 2.326 2.534 2.704 2.847 2.970 3.078

0.8865 0.5907 0.4857 0.4299 0.3946 0.3698 0.3512 0.3367 0.3249

o= (E(Xl--)2+ (x,-x)2+...
+ (Xn - X)2]/n - l}fh
(3-2) or

*From Table B2, ASTM Manual on Quality Control of Materials, Reference 4.

3.3.3 Coefficient of variation, V-The standard deviation expressed as a percentage of the average strength is called the coefficient of variation:

~xi - (CXi)'


crete are required to establish reliable values for R. The within-test standard deviation and coefficient of variation can be conveniently computed as follows:
01 = 2



v = + x 100

(3-3) where
Cl =

VI = g x 100


3.3.4 Range, R-Range is the statistic found by subtracting the lowest of a group of numbers from the highest one in the group. The within-test range is found by subtracting the lowest of the group of cylinder strengths averaged to produce a test from the highest of the group. The withintest range is useful in computing the within-test standard deviation discussed in the following section. 3.4-Strength variations As mentioned previously, variations in results of strength tests can be traced to two different sources: (a) variations in testing methods and (b) properties of the concrete mixture and ingredients. It is possible by analysis of variance to compute the variations attributable to each source. 3.4.1 Within-test variation - The variation in strength of concrete within a single test is found by computing the variation of a group of cylinders fabricated from a sample of concrete taken from a given batch. It is reasonable to assume that a test sample of concrete is homogeneous and any variation between companion cylinders fabricated from a given sample is caused by fabricating, curing, and testing variations. A single batch of concrete, however, provides insufficient data for statistical analysis and companion cylinders from at least ten batches of con-

within-test standard deviation l/d2 = a constant depending on the number of cylinders averaged to produce a test (Table 3.4.1) R = average range within groups of companion cylinders VI = within-test coefficient of variation X = average strength

3.4.2 Batch-to-batch variations-These variations reflect differences in strength which can be attributed to variations in (a) Characteristics and properties of the ingredients (b) Batching, mixing, and sampling (c) Testing that has not been detected from companion cylinders since these tend to be treated more alike than cylinders tested at different times



Fig. 3.4.2(a)-Approximate division of the area under the normal frequency distribution curve


The batch-to-batch and within-test sources of variation are related to the overall variation [Eq. (3-3) ] by the following expression: o2 = 012 + 022 (3-6)

where G = overall standard deviation o1 = within-test standard deviation o2 = batch-to-batch standard deviation Once these parameters have been computed, and with the assumption that the results follow a normal frequency distribution curve, a large amount of information about the test results becomes known. Fig. 3.4.2 (a) indicates an approximate division of the area under the normal frequency distribution curve. For example, approximately 68 percent of the area (equivalent to 68 percent of the test results) lies within 3t la of the average, 95 percent within t 20, etc. This permits an estimate to be made of the portion of


Expected percztage low tests

Average strength, x

Expected perceo;ltage low tests 46.0 42.1 38.2 34.5 30.9 27.4 24.2 21.2 18.4 15.9 13.6 11.5

Average strength, X fc + 1.60 fc + 1.7

2.3 1.8




fe + 0.800 f: + 0.90 fc + 0

Percent of average strength

018 p;
f0 + 3.0 * 0:25 0.19 0.13


Fig. 3.4.2(b)-Cumulative distribution curves for different coefficients of variation

fc + 1.50

84.4 60


kgf/c& 56.2




8 80 s & z 90 ce $j 9 5 e 96 97 400 1000 800 600 1200 Compressive strength-psi below average 200 0


Fig. 3.4.2(c)-Cumulative distribution curves for different standard deviations



Overall variation Standard deviation for different control standards, psi (kgf/cmz) Class of operation Excellent General construction testing Laboratory trial batches below 400 (28.1) below 200 (14.1) Very good 400 to 500 (28.1) (35.2) 200 to 250 (14.1) (17.6) Good 500 to 600 (35.2) (42.2) 250 to 300 (17.6) (21.1) Fair 600 to 700 (42.2) (49.2) 300 to 350 (21.1) (24.6) Poor above 700 (49.2) above 350 (24.6)

Within-test variation Coefficient of variation for different control standards, percent Class of operation Excellent Field control testing Laboratory trial batches below 3.0 below 2.0 Very good 3.0 to 4.0 2.0 to 3.0 Good 4.0 to 5.0 3.0 to 4.0 Fair 5.0 to 6.0 4.0 to 5.0 Poor above 6.0 above 5.0

the test results expected to fall within given multiples of 0 of the average or of any other specific value. Table 3.4.2 has been adapted from the normal probability integral of the theoretical normal frequency distribution curve and shows the probability of tests falling below f: in terms of the average strength of the mix x = fcr = (fO + to). Cumulative distribution curves can also be plotted by accumulating the number of tests below any given strength expressed as a percentage of the average strength for different coefficients of variation or standard deviations. Fig. 3.4.2(b) and 3.4.2 (c) present such information. In these figures, the ordinate indicates the percent of the population of strength values which may be expected to exceed the strength indicated by any abscissa value for a selected coefficient of variation or standard deviation.

3.5-Standards of control

The decision as to whether the standard deviation or the coefficient of variation is the appropriate measure of dispersion to use in any given situation depends on which of the two measures is the more nearly constant over the range of strengths characteristic of the particular situation. Present information indicates that the standard deviation remains more nearly constant particularly at strengths over 3000 psi (211 kgf/cm2). For within-test variations the coefficient of variation is considered to be more applicable (see References 5-10). Table 3.5 shows the variability that can be expected for compressive strength tests on projects subject to different degrees of control. These values are not applicable to other strength tests.


The strength of control cylinders is generally the only tangible evidence of the quality of concrete used in constructing a structure. Because of the possible disparity between the strength of test cylinders and the load-carrying capacity of a structure it is unwise to place any reliance on inadequate strength data. The number of tests lower than the desired strength is more important in computing the loadcarrying capacity of concrete structures than the average strength obtained. It is impractical, howSTRENGTH TEST EVALUATION

ever, to specify a minimum strength since there is always the possibility of even lower strengths, even when control is good. It is also recognized that the cylinders may not accurately represent the concrete in each portion of the structure. Factors of safety are provided in design equations which allow for deviations from specified strengths without jeopardizing the safety of the structure. These have been evolved on the basis of construction practices, design procedures, and quality control techniques used by the construction industry. It should also be remembered that for a given mean strength, if a small percentage


Coefficient of variation, percent Fig. 4.1 (a)-Ratio of required average strength to specified strength fc for various coefficients of variation and chances of falling below specified strength

Standard deviation, psi

Fig. 4.1(b)-Excess of required average strength to specified strength fc for various standard deviations and chances of falling below specified strength

of the test results fall below the design strength, a corresponding large percentage of the test results will be greater than the design strength with an equally large probability of being located in a critical area. The consequences of a localized zone of low-strength concrete in a structure depend on many factors; included are the probability of early overload, the location and magnitude of the low-quality zone in the structural unit, the degree of reliance placed on strength in design, the initial cause of the low strength, and the consequences, economic and otherwise, of structural failure. The final criterion which allows for a certain probability of tests falling below ft used in design is a designers decision based on his intimate knowledge of the conditions that are likely to prevail. Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete (AC1 318-71) , provides guidelines in this regard, as do other building codes and specifications. To satisfy strength performance requirements expressed in this fashion the average strength of concrete must be in excess of f6, the design strength. The amount of excess strength depends on the expected variability of test results as expressed by a coefficient of variation or standard deviation, and on the allowable proportion of low tests. Strength data for determining the standard deviation or coefficient of variation should represent a group of at least 30 consecutive tests made on concrete produced under conditions similar to those to be expected on the project. The requirement for 30 consecutive strength tests will be con8

sidered to have been complied with if the tests represent either a group of 30 consecutive batches of the same class of concrete or the statistical average for two groups totalling 30 or more batches. Similar conditions will be difficult to define and can be best documented by collecting several groups of 30 or more tests. In general, changes in materials and procedures will have a larger effect on the average strength level than on the standard deviation or coefficient of variation. S i g n i f i c a n t changes generallyinclude changes in type and brand of portland cement, admixtures, source of aggregates, mix proportions, batching, mixing, delivery, -or testing. The data should represent concrete produced to meet a specified strength close to that specified for the proposed work, since the standard deviation may vary as the average strength varies. The required average strength fcr for any design can be computed from Eq. (4-l) or (4-la), (Table 3.4.2), or approximated from Fig. 4.1 (a) or 4.1 (b) , depending on whether the coefficient of variation or standard deviation is used.

fw =
fcr =

(1 - tv)


fc +


fcr = fc




required average strength design strength specified a constant depending upon the proportion of tests that may fall below fJ (Table 4.1) forecast value of the coefficient of variation expressed as a fraction forecast value of the standard deviation

kgf/cm2 141

.I 69 197 I1









3200 3600 4ooo 4400 Compressive Strength, psi


Fig. 4.1(c)-Normal frequency curves for coefficients of variation of

10, 15,


20 percent

Whenever the average of a certain number of tests TZ is involved in the specification, Eq. (4-l) is modified as follows:

TABLE 4.1-VALUES OF t Percentages of tests falling within the limits X * to 40 50 6680.27 ;: ;8 95.45 98 ii.73 Chances of falling below lower limit 3 2.5 2 1 1.5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 in in in in in in in in in in in in 10 10 10 6.3 10 10 20 40 44 100 200 741



l--Z= Vn



0.52 0.67 0.84 1.00 1.04 1.28 1.65 1.96 2.00 2.33 2.58 3.00

fcr = fc +




Fig. 4.1 (c) demonstrates that as the variability increases fcr must increase and thereby illustrates the economic value of good control. The requirement of at least 30 test results mentioned previously is based on the fact that 25 to 30 randomly selected test results from a normally distributed population provide estimates of the population average and standard deviation that can be used as the population values. If only a small number of results is available on which to base estimates, then the values, especially for standard deviation, are unreliable, and there is no way in which fcr can be determined so that a specific percentage of future tests will be above f assuming that the present test results are the only information available. If previous information exists for concrete from the same plant meeting the similarity requirements described above, that information may be used in deciding on a trial value of c to be used in determining the target fcr.

For small jobs that are just getting started, where no prior information is available, the concrete should be designed to produce an average strength fcr at least 1200 psi (84.4 kgf/cm2) greater than fl. As the job progresses and more strength tests become available, all the strength tests can be analyzed together to give a more reliable estimate of the standard deviation, and Eq. (4-1), (4-la), (4-lb) , and (4-1c) can be used to calculate a less conservative fCr.
4.2-Criteria for strength requirements

The amount by which the average strength of a concrete mix fcr should exceed fC depends on the criteria used in the specifications for a particular project. The following are examples of calculations that would have to be made to select

the design strengths of a mix that will meet the requirements of a particular code or specification. 4.2.1 Criterion No. 1-A stated maximum proportion of random individual strength tests that will be permitted to fall below fc on the average. ASTM C 94-74 uses a similar approach. For concrete in structures designed by the ultimate strength method, ASTM recommends that not more than 10 percent of the strength tests have values less than the specified strength f:. As an example, consider the situation where no more than 1 in 10 random individual strengths will be permitted to be below an f: of 4000 psi (281 kgf/cmz). Standard deviation method Consider very good quality control as indicated by a standard deviation of 450 psi (31.7 kgf/cm2). Using Eq. (4-la) and Table 4.1, we have f CT = fc+ to = 4000 + 1.28 x 450 = 4580 psi (322 kgf/cm2) As a result, for a structural design strength fJ of 4000 psi (281 kgf/cm2), the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 4580 psi (322 kgf/cm2). Note that the coefficient of variation is (450/4580) x 100 = 9.8 percent.
Coefficient of variation method

CT =



n 2.33(750) = 4000 psi + VT = 5000 psi (351 kgf/cm2) As a result, for a structural design strength fJ of 4000 psi (281 kgf/cm2), the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 5000 psi (351 kgf/cm2). Coefficient of variation method Considering a coefficient of variation of 15 percent and using Eq. (4-lb) and Table 4.1, we have
f CT

tv 1 -v

Consider good quality control as indicated by a coefficient of variation of 10 percent. Using Eq. (4-l) and Table 4.1, we have

fcr =
1.15 fi [see also Fig. 4.1 (a)] 4600 psi (324 kgf/cm2) Using this approach and this data the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 4600 psi (324 kgf/cm2). 4.2.2 Criterion No. 2-A certain probability that an average of n consecutive strength tests will be below fJ. ACI 318-71 suggests that after sufficient test data become available from a project, the frequency of occurrence of averages of three consecutive tests below fc should not exceed 1 in 100. As an example, consider the situation where no more than 1 in 100 of averages of three consecutive strength tests will be permitted to be below an fc of 4000 psi (281 kgf /cm2).
Standard deviation method

4000 2.33 (0.15) lv3 = 5000 psi (351 kgf/cm2) Using this approach the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 5000 psi (351 kgf/cm2). 4.2.3 Criterion No. 3-A certain probability that a random individual strength test will be more than a certain amount below f:. This approach is also used in ACI 318-71 by stipulating that the probability of a random test result being more than 500 psi (35.1 kgf/cm2) below fi should be 1 in 100. As an example, consider a probability of 1 in 100 that a strength test will be more than 500 psi (35.1 kgf/cm2) below an fi of 4000 psi (281 kgf/cm2) .
Standard deviation method

fcr = -

1 - 1.28 (0.10)


Considering a standard deviation of 750 psi (53 kgf/cm2) and using Eq. (4-la) and Table 4.1, we have fc?_ = fc- 500 + to = 4000 - 500 + 2.33 (750) = 5245 psi (369 kgf/cm2) As a result the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 5245 psi (369 kgf/cm2).
Coefficient of variation method

Using Eq. (4-l) and Table 4.1, and a coefficient of variation of 15 percent, we have

fcr = *; -;y
4000 - 500 jcr = 1 - 2.33 (0.15) = 5390 psi (379 kgf/cm2) Using this approach, the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 5390 psi (379 kgf/cm2).

Consider a standard deviation of 750 psi (53 kgf/cm2). Using Eq. (4-1c) and Table 4.1, we have


1 2 Averages less than indicated require investigation* Number of consecutive tests averaged 1 test in 10 below fc For V = 15, percent

5 Probability of averages less than f,,t percent

Criteria for original selection of for 1 test in 100 less than [fc - 500 psi (35.2 kgf/cms]

For given CT For given 0 fc - 500 fc - 500 fc - 500 fc - 500 fc - 500 fr - 500 + + + + + + 0.76 0.88 1.14a 1.30 1.41 1.49

1 test in 10 below f0

10.0 3.5 E 0:2 0.1

*The probability of averages less than the levels indicated is approximately 2 percent if the population average equals f Go and the standard deviation or coefficient of variation is at the level assumed. tIf the population average equals f CP and the standard deviation or coefficient of variation is at the level assumed.

4.2.4 Criterion No. 4-A certain probability that a random individual strength test will be less than a certain percentage of fc. As an example consider a probability of 1 in 100 that a strength test will be less than 85 percent of an fc of 4000 psi (281 kgf /cm2). Standard deviation method Using Eq. (4-la) and Table 4.1 and a standard deviation of 750 (53 kgf/cm2), we have fcr = 0.85 fc + to = 0.85 (4000) + 2.33 (750) = 5145 psi (361 kgf/cm2) As a result the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 5145 psi (361 kgf/cm2). Coefficient of variation method Using Eq. (4-l) and Table 4.1 and a coefficient of variation of 15 percent, we have 0.85 fc fcr = ~ 1 - tv 0.85 (4000) - 1 - 2.33 (0.15) = 5230 psi (368 kgf/cm2) Using this approach, the concrete mixture should be proportioned for an average strength of not less than 5230 psi (368 kgf/cm2).
4.3-Additional information

Table 4.3 presents additional information. The values in the body of the table in Columns 2, 3, and 4 are the strength levels below which individual tests or averages of different numbers of

tests should not normally fall. These values are based on the premise that the concrete is proportioned to produce an average strength equal to fcr. The values in Column 2 are theoretically correct only for concrete with a coefficient of variation of 15 percent. Those in Columns 3 and 4 apply to any known standard deviation. In either case the probability of their being exceeded when the concrete is properly controlled is only about 0.02. Thus, failure to meet the tabulated limits in a larger proportion of cases than that stated may be an indication that the current average strength is less than fcr or that (r or V has increased. This could be caused by lower strength or poorer control than expected, or both. The possibility should not be overlooked that the low tests may be caused by errors in sampling or testing rather than deficiency in the concrete itself. In any case, corrective action is warranted. Column 5 shows the probability that the average of any given number of consecutive tests will fail to equal or exceed f: if the concrete is proportioned to produce an average strength equal to fcr. It can be seen that increasing the number of tests to be averaged increases the likelihood that fc will be exceeded since variations tend to balance out with an increased number of tests in a set. For enforcement purposes, it is appropriate and logical to select the number of consecutive tests to be averaged in such a way that the acceptance level is equal to fG. This would mean an average of three consecutive tests for concrete in which one out of ten tests would be permitted to be lower than f:. It should, however, be remem11

bered that, according to the statistical theory assumed in the derivation of the values, such failures may be expected by chance alone one time in 50, even if the concrete is controlled exactly as anticipated and is overdesigned to yield an average strength equal to fcr. Most specifications for concrete strength require that a test be comprised of two or three specimens from the same sample of concrete. The specimens are necessary to obtain a reliable average for a given sample and to provide range data R for determining within-sample variations.
4.4-Quality control charts

While these do not contain all the features of formal control charts they should prove useful to the engineer, architect, and plant superintendent. (a) A chart in which the results of all strength tests are plotted as received. The line for the required average strength is established as indicated by Eq. (4-la) or Table 4.3 and the specified design strength. (b) Moving average for compressive strength where the average is plotted for the previous five sets of two companion cylinders for each day or shift, and the specified strength in this case is the lower limit. This chart is valuable in indicating trends and will show the influence of seasonal changes, changes in materials, etc. The number of tests averaged to plot moving averages with an appropriate lower limit can be varied to suit each job. (c) Moving average for range where the average range of the previous ten groups of companion cylinders is plotted each day or shift. The maximum average range allowable for good laboratory control is also plotted. Maximum average range is determined as discussed in Section 4.5. Fig. 4.4 shows Charts (a), (b), and (c) for 46 tests. To be fully effective charts should be maintained throughout the entire job.

Quality control charts have been used by manufacturing industries for many years as an aid in reducing variability and increasing efficiency in production. Methods are well established for the setting up of such charts and are outlined in convenient form in the ASTM Manual on Quality Control of Materials .4 Based on the pattern of previous results and limits established therefrom, trends become apparent as soon as new results are plotted. Points which fall outside the calculated limits indicate that something has affected the control of the process. Such charts are recommended wherever concrete is in continuous production over considerable periods. Three simplified charts prepared specifically concrete control are illustrated in Fig. 4.4.


Charts for individual strength tests


2000-- Required strength = fl+ tcr


Moving average for strength

Required average strength, fcr-,

Each point, average strength of five previous test groups __280 z

--140, E c W-

e, E

300-- - - - - - - lOO-I I Averoge range for two cylinders = .0564 fcrA Average range tor three cylinders = 0846 fcr II ! I I I I I I I I I I Each point average of ten previous ranges 11 1 11 11 1 _,



20 28 24 Sample numbers






Fig. 4.4-Quality control charts for concrete.


4.5-Tests and specimens required

For any particular job, a sufficient number of tests should be made to insure accurate representation of the variations of the concrete. Concrete tests can be made either on the basis of time elapsed or cubic yardage placed and conditions on each job will determine the most practical method of obtaining the number of tests needed. A test is defined as the average strength of all specimens of the same age fabricated from a sample taken from a single batch of concrete. A project where all concrete operations are supervised by one engineer provides an excellent opportunity for control and for accurate estimates of reliability with a minimum of tests. Once operations are progressing smoothly tests taken each day or shift, depending on the volume of concrete produced, are sufficient to obtain data which reflect the variations in the concrete of the structure. In general, it is advisable to make a sufficient number of tests so that each different type of concrete placed during any one day will be represented by at least one test which is an average of two standard 6 x 12 in. cylinders tested at the required age. Single specimens taken from two different batches each day will provide more reliable information on overall variations, but it is usually desirable to make companion specimens from the same sample to obtain a check on the within-test variation. The number of specimens required by the engineer (architect) should be based on established standards but may be reduced as the reliabilities of the producer, the laboratory, and the contractor are established. The laboratory has the responsibility of making accurate tests, and concrete will be penalized unnecessarily if tests show greater variations or lower average strength levels than actually exist. Since the range between companion specimens from the same sample can be assumed to be the responsibility of the laboratory, a control chart for ranges (Fig. 4.4) should be maintained by the laboratory as a check on the uniformity of its operations. It should be noted that these ranges will not reveal day to day differences in testing, curing, and capping procedures or testing procedures which affect strength levels over long periods. The range between companion cylinders depends on the number of specimens in the group and the within-test variation. This relationship is expressed by the following equation [see Eq. (3-4) and (3-5)] (4-2) where Em is the average range in Control Chart (c) of Fig. 4.4. The within-test coefficient of variation VI should not be greater than 5 percent

for good control (Table 3.5), and the estimate of the corresponding average range will be: Rm = (0.05 x l.l28)f,, = 0.05640& for groups of two companion cylinders R, = (0.05 x 1.693)&r = O.O8465f, for groups of three companion cylinders. A cylinder of concrete 6 in. in diameter and 12 in. high which has been moist cured for 28 days at 21 C is generally considered a standard specimen for strength and control of concrete if the coarse aggregate does not exceed 2 in. in nominal size. Many times, particularly in the early stages of a job, it becomes necessary to estimate the strength of concrete being produced before the 28-day strength results are available. Concrete cylinders from the same batch should be made and tested at 7 days, or at earlier ages utilizing accelerated test procedures. The 28-day strength can be estimated by extrapolating early test data. The strength of concrete at later ages, particularly where a pozzolan or cement of slow strength gain is used, is more realistic than the standard 28-day strength. Some structures will not be loaded until concrete has been allowed to mature for longer periods and advantage can be taken of strength gain after 28 days. Some concretes have been found to produce at 28 days less than 50 percent of their ultimate strength. If design is based on strength at later ages, it becomes necessary to correlate these strengths with standard 28-day cylinders since it is not practicable to use later age specimens for concrete acceptance. If possible, the correlation should be established by laboratory tests before construction starts. If mixing plants are located in one place for long enough periods, it is advisable to establish this correlation for reference even though later age concrete is not immediately involved. Curing concrete test specimens at the construction site and under job conditions is sometimes recommended since this is considered more representative of the curing applied to the structure. These special tests should not be confused with, nor replace, standard control tests. Tests of jobcured specimens may be highly desirable and are necessary when determining the time of form removal, particularly in cold weather, and when establishing the strength of steam-cured concrete pipe, block, and structural members. The potential strength and variability of concrete can be established by standard 6 x 12 in. cylinders made and cured under standard conditions. Strength specimens of concrete made or cured under other than standard conditions provide additional information but should be analyzed and reported separately.

4.6-Rejection of doubtful specimens The practice of arbitrary rejection of test cylinders which appear too far out of line is not recommended since the normal pattern of probability establishes the possibility of such results. Discarding tests indiscriminately could seriously distort the strength distribution, making analysis of results less reliable. It occasionally happens that the strength of one cylinder from a group made from a sample deviates so far from the mean as to be highly improbable. It is recommended that a specimen from

a test of three or more specimens be discarded if its deviation from a test mean is greater than 30, and should be accepted with suspicion if its deviation is greater than 20. If questionable variations have been observed during fabrication, curing, or testing of a specimen, the specimen should be rejected. The test average should be computed from the remaining specimens. A test (average of all specimens of a sample) should never be rejected unless the specimens are known to be faulty, since it represents the best available estimate for the sample.

1. Natrella, M. G., Experimental Statistics, Handbook No. 91, U. S. Department of Standards, National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D. C., 1963, pp. l-4 to l-6. 2. Realism in the Application of ACI Standard 214-65, SP-37, American Concrete Institute, Detroit, 1973, 215 pp. 3. Evaluation of Strength Tests of Concrete, ACI Bibliography No. 2, American Concrete Institute, Detroit, 1960, 13 pp. 4. ASTM Manual on Quality Control of Materials, STP 15-C American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, Jan. 1951, 127 pp. 5. Neville, A. M., The Relation Between Standard Deviation and Mean Strength of Concrete Test Cubes, Magazine of Concrete Research (London), V. 11, No. 32, July 1959, pp. 75-84. 6. Metcalf, J. B., The Specification of Concrete Strength, Part II, The Distribution of Strength of Concrete for Structures in Current Practice, RRL Report No. LR 300, Road Research Laboratory, Crawthorne, Berkshire, 1970, 22 pp. 7. Murdock, C. J., The Control of Concrete Quality, Proceedings, Institution of Civil Engineers (London), V. 2, Part I, July 1953, pp. 426-453. 8. Erntroy, H. C., The Variation of Works Test Cubes, Research Report No. 10, Cement and Concrete Association, London, Nov. 1960, 28 pp. 9. Riisch, H., Statistical Quality Control of Concrete, Materialpriifung (Dusseldorf), V. 6, No. 11, Nov. 1964, pp. 387-394. 10. Tentative Recommended Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Test Program to Determine the Precision of Test Methods for Construction Materials, (ASTM C 802-74T), 1975 Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Part 13, American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, pp. 414-443.