This paper describes a centrifuge study using a range of penetrometer tests (T-bar, piezocone and free-fall piezocone) to explore strength changes in a reconstituted, normally consolidated, natural calcareous silt. Various penetrometer test procedures were applied to measure the penetration resistances including monotonic, cyclic and twitch-type movements as well as pauses for pore pressure dissipation. These mobilised combinations of partial or full remoulding, strain softening, consolidation and viscous rate effects. The penetrometer resistance – representing a proxy for strength – reduced by a factor of 4·1 from drained to undrained conditions (at the lowest fully undrained penetration rate). In undrained conditions, viscous enhancement of the penetration resistance raised the tip and shaft resistance in free-fall piezocone tests by ∼2·8 and ∼3·6 times, respectively. The ‘restart’ resistance immediately after the dissipation tests was ∼2·5 times higher than the resistance prior to dissipation, giving an indication of consolidation-induced strength gain. The ‘twitch’ test (using sequential steps decreasing the velocity) captured drainage and viscous rate effects, and also gave a ‘restart’ resistance that showed even greater consolidation effects than from a dissipation test. Overall, the different penetrometer test types and procedures measured resistances in the same soil sample that varied by a factor exceeding 20 from highest to lowest, resulting from different penetration rates and history, due to strain rate, strain level (or remoulding) and consolidation. An expression for the monotonic penetration resistance combining drainage and viscous rate effects was fitted to the response of all tests, spanning >7 orders of magnitude in strain rate.