The virtual calibration chamber technique, based on the discrete element method, is here applied to study the standard penetration test (SPT). A macro-element approach is used to represent a rod driven with an impact like those applied to perform SPT. The rod is driven into a chamber filled with a scaled discrete analogue of a quartz sand. The contact properties of the discrete analogue are calibrated simulating two low-pressure triaxial tests. The rod is driven changing input energy and controlling initial density and confinement stress. Energy-based blowcount normalization is shown to be effective. Results obtained are in good quantitative agreement with well-accepted experimentally-based relations between blowcount, density and overburden. It is also shown that the tip resistance measured under impact dynamic penetration conditions is close to that under constant velocity conditions, hence supporting recent proposals to relate CPT and SPT results.