[Studyplan] Assistant Central Intelligence Officer (ACIO): Topicwise booklist, Strategy

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Pavan Kumar

update: August-07-2013: this is an old article written for 2012’s exam. New article for 2013’s Exam has been published separately on following link:
Please click ME
. Again repeating: article given below is outdated (then why don’t I delete it?) Because ACIO-2012 toppers/buddies use this page’s commenting system as their hangout-place. If I delete this article the comments will also be deleted. That’s why I’m not deleting this outdated article.

  1. Readymade guidebooks for ACIO exam
  2. How to approach the Objective paper of ACIO exam?
  3. Difference between GK and GS
  4. The books
  5. Topicwise Preparation for ACIO Exam
  6. General Knowledge
  7. Aptitude and English
  8. English Grammar and Vocabulary
  9. Aptitude
  10. Essay
  11. Structure of the Exam

Many a times, sincere candidates fail in Government job exams because

  1. Relying on readymade guidebooks by “jholachhap publication”.
  2. They underestimate the level of competition and hence their preparation is not upto the mark. [although personally they may be believing that they’ve studied hard.]

Know that whether it is IAS exam or Bank clerk’s exam, competition is always tough and life is always cruel [thanks to our population]. Hence, The only way to make life easier, is studying harder and harder.

Readymade guidebooks for ACIO exam

As I keep saying: DONOT USE any readymade book such as “ACIO/APFC/CPF guidebook by XYZ bogus publisher. ”

  • They merely copy paste few chapters from here and there, donot provide you comprehensive information / theory on any topic.
  • Secondly, many candidates simultaneously prepare for SSC, LIC, CPF, IBPS and similar exams, so they’re really good both in GK as well as aptitude. You prepare from some ‘jholaachhap” book then you loose in the competition.

How to approach the Objective paper of ACIO exam?

I’m grateful to the good friend CSL180 for providing the inputs on previous papers of ACIO exam.
From the previous trend, it seems ACIO is more about GK than GS.

Difference between GK and GS

General KnowledgeGeneral Studies
Kaun banega crorepati kinda things. Mere knowledge of facts. “Who, Where and When” type of questions.encompassing much more than GK, deals with important things of life- science, Constitution, History – why this and why that – so you need not only the knowledge of facts but understanding of events.
Who invented Telescope?How does Telescope work?
  • In, CPF (assistant commandant) or UPSC (IAS/IPS etc.)- the questions are less related to GK and more related to GS.
  • Usually the Class I and II officers’ recruitment exams have more GS than GK but for god knows why, ACIO paper almost entirely made up of GK questions only.
  • For example “NABARD was setup under which five year plan?”,
  • “OPEC was established in which year?
  • May be because ACIO exam isn’t conducted by UPSC and the Old professors who setup the ACIO papers, haven’t grown out of the 90s era yet.
  • Anyhow, the moral of the story is, you shouldn’t prepare for ACIO exam, the same way you prepare for UPSC, CPF or APFC. This one requires similar books but different approach.

The books


GK 2013I DONOT recommend Manorama Yearbook for GK, because

  • It is way too thick and contains way too trivial GK such as life Expectance and literacy rate of XYZ country.
  • The huge size of that book (around 1000 pages) alone creates frustration in the mind ki “itnaa saaara complete kab hoga?” [When will I finish this all?]

Therefore instead of Manorama, I recommend another book
GK 2013 by Manohar Pandey, Arihant Publication

The book is dirt cheap only Rs.25 (and on flipkart, they sell it only for Rs.19.) and has around 100 pages- listing all important GK facts.
[Besides the small size of that book creates positive vibrations in the study room, hahaha]

Topicwise Preparation for ACIO Exam

The NCERT can be freely (and legally) downloaded using this link Click ME.
The NCERTs contain GK information scattered throughout their chapters, Besides they’ve colorful photos and text, so they’re interesting to read.

General Knowledge

What is asked in previous papers?Recommended Book
HistoryXyz temple was built by which king?
Xyz war was fought by which two sides?
  1. NCERT Social Science Class 7 to 10
  2. NCERT History Class 11,12
  3. GK 2013 by Manohar Pandey (Arihant Publication)
GeographyNothing from Physical Geography (Theory, atmosphere etc)
Only “xyz place is famous for what?”
“xyz thing is located at where?”
That type of GK questions from Geography- both India and World.
  1. NCERT Social Science Class 7 to 10
  2. NCERT Geography Class 11, 12
  3. GK 2013 by Manohar Pandey (Arihant Publication)
ScienceWho invented this and that?
  1. NCERT Science Class 7 to 10
  2. Manohar Pandey
PolityOnly GK For example “which article of Constitution contains provision for Constitutional amendments?
  1. GK 2013 by Manohar Pandey (Arihant Publication)
  2. (Optional) Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth
CultureLocation of Temples and fairs.
  1. Manohar + NCERTs
Stupid Current Affairs
  • Sports (including Cricket!).
  • Books and authors.
  • Awards (film, social service etc)
  • Defence (Missile, tanks etc.)

(ya, UPSC stopped asking such stupid things in Civil service exam but ACIO paper setter uncle-ji hasn’t learned the lesson yet, may the almighty give them some wisdom.)

  1. this website: competitionmaster.com
EconomyTrivial questions like when was RBI established and when was NABARD established etc.
I would expect similar GK from Current affairs based Economy.
Current affairs material already suggested above.
+ Manohar Pandey

Aptitude and English

The trivial GK is limitless, but brain’s memory has limits, so how do you improve your score?
Obviously, you’ve to score huge in English Grammar and Aptitude.
There are aspirants in this “competition business” for 2-3 years, trying for Bank, LIC, CPF, SSC and similar jobs, and they’ve impeccable command over English grammar/Reading comprehension and aptitude.
So if you make any excuse ki “meraa English thik nahi hai” or “meraa maths kamjor hai”, then you’re digging your own grave. Toppers donot fall from sky, they’re among you, but they’re just studying harder and not wasting time in giving such excuses or doing cut off speculation. So, If your maths/english is not good, then study hard and improve it. Know that every master was once an amateur.

English Grammar and Vocabulary

Sentence correction, Sentence arrangement, Reading comprehension, synonym, antonym, fill in the blanks etc.etc.etc.
Study approach and booklist is same, as given in earlier APFC exam article: Click ME.


Since you’ve applied for ACIO exam, I assume that your end goal is Government job of some kind.
So even if you fail in ACIO, you’d continue pursuing similar competitive exams such as IBPS, SSC, LIC, CPF etc.Therefore, I would suggest the aptitude books that can be used for all such exams.


verbal non verbl
  1. Quantam CAT by Sarvesh Kumar Verma (Arihant Publication)

For ACIO exam, prepare upto level 1 exercises only from each each chapter.
[Later on if you want to prepare for IBPS or SSC, then use the same book but prepare upto level 2 exercises from each chapter.]

  1. Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S.Agarwal (S.Chand Publication)

Ideally you should do all the sums from all the chapters, Including the Non-Verbal portion i.e. figure based questions.
But, If you dont have enough time, then try 10 sums from each topic and then move to next topic.

  1. My articles and videos on Aptitude, they can be accessed using following link: mrunal.org/aptitude

And most importantly, no one can master aptitude by reading the solved sums alone. You’ve calculate them by your hand.


  1. If you’re running out of time, you may use IBPS Manual by Disha Publication
    instead of the book #1 and Book #2 given above. But that’s like firefighting and such shortcuts are luck dependent, hence should not be used in normal case.


The ACIO 2012’s notification specifically mentions that

ACIO-II/Exe contains two papers namely
Paper I (Objective type) and
Paper II (Descriptive type on English language only).
The total duration for both the Papers is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

This book has around 100 essays on various themes and topics, so you get enough fodder material for writing essays on conventional topics.
Apart from that daily newspaper reading: Either The Hindu or Indian Express.
How to read newspapers? Already explained in earlier article: Click ME.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

1,872 Comments on “[Studyplan] Assistant Central Intelligence Officer (ACIO): Topicwise booklist, Strategy”

  1. Please guide me how to prepare for ib ACIO 2017

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