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

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Mrunal's Win22 Series for Economy Updates for UPSC Prelims & Mains 2022

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 Again repeating: article given below is outdated (then why don’t I delete it?)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 That’s why I’m not deleting this outdated article.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 Knowledge General 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 2013 I 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
History Xyz 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)
Geography Nothing 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)
Science Who invented this and that?
  1. NCERT Science Class 7 to 10
  2. Manohar Pandey
Polity Only 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
Culture Location 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
Economy Trivial 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.

Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

1,871 Comments on “[Studyplan] Assistant Central Intelligence Officer (ACIO): Topicwise booklist, Strategy”

    1. I’ve asked that question to Home Ministry via RTI last week (along with requesting official answerkeys for 2011’s exam etc),
      and awaiting for reply.

  1. sir ,
    will the interview questions will be based on political situations of regional places or general national issues and international issues??

  2. Sir i got 55/100(sure-sure) correct and expecting 25-30(min)in my essay. Wht’s my chance of getting interview call.I belong to obc category.

  3. hi niraj! my score is 82 in paper1 and considerably good essay..expecting around 30..i belong to OBC..what are my chances?..pls reciprocate

  4. Is the total time allotted 100 minutes for both or each of them(objective and descriptive, ie 100+100).
    In case the total time is 100min then the strategy for essay writing given is irrelevant for ACIO.
    Please suggest some thing better.

    1. Total time 100 mins, 100 MCQs 1 mark each (100 Marks), and 1 essay of 50 Marks, that’s it. Now, its up to you, if you want to attempt MCQ or Descriptive first. Generally people try to finish MCQ in first 60 mins and attempt essay in remaining 40 mins.

  5. Sir,

    1. Start preparing for interview, only if your essay covers more than 6-8 relative facts. Pages do not matter in essay.

  6. @ Neeraj:- I have heard that last year cutoff for general category was 62/100 and the paper last year was easy, is that correct? and do you know anyone from SC category who has been called for interview with 52-53/100 score?

    1. Sunil, Prepare for interview as you have chances of getting interview call. For converting that call, you will have to score more in the interview.

  7. Hi all,

    What will be the sequence of activities that take place after Assistant intelligence officer exam? Is it like we get result of written exam then call for interview and again we get result of final selection – then medical test? Is this the case?

    It would be great if somebody could let me know this info. Thanks in advance!

    1. Yes Ankith, just like all other government post-written selection procedure, this will also going to be the same.

      Written exam result >>> interview call >>>> document verification and interview >>>>> Interview result >>>> call for Medical examination >>>> result of Medical Examination >>>> Background Check in your nearest police station >>> Final offer letter with your training date and reporting time.

  8. Application : 21.07.2012
    Last date of receiving Online Application : 19.08.2012 Upto 2400 hrs
    Downloading the Admit Card: : 03.09.2012 onwards
    Date of Examination : 23.09.2012 (1000 Hrs to 1200 Hrs)
    Result Declaration : Mid Nov, 2012
    Interview Schedule : Mid Dec, 2012
    result will come in feb 2013 or jan last week

  9. what would be the cutoff for ST category are there any sectional cutoff for MCQ for 100 or overall cutoff for 100

  10. Sir,

    I belong to SC category & hope to get around 90 out of 150. plz do tell me about my chances for interview…

  11. hi..
    in some sites, ppl say that there is cut off for MCQ score alone, and if the candidate reaches the required(cut off) MCQ score, then they will evaluate the essay paper of that candidate only..but according to u cut off will include both MCQ + essay….don’t know which is correct!! :(

    1. Cut off will be considered in both section.

      Firstly in Objective and then in Composite final scores.

      Objective Paper cut off generally comes in between 60-75%, varies with Category. And then same happens in Descriptive Check. And so over-all cut-off goes to the same 60-75%.

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  14. i have 70 correct in paper-1 and expected-30-35 in paper -II what r the chance for interview please tell me..?

  15. anybody knows exact date i know it is is mid November but any final information on exact date from any IB sources

    1. hi sir
      please any one answer my question if any body have an idea for this and please provide actual date of result declaration.

  16. Hi Anuj,

    I belong to SC category, i will get 40 marks out of 100 and expect to score above 30 in essay writing in ACIO 2 held in september. That is i expect 70 marks out of 150.

    Is there any chance of cracking the exam ??

    1. well, i really don’t have much idea dear.. but i think u must be ready for the interview. all the best for result..

  17. Hi,

    Any information on what kind of questions will be asked in interview?

    Is there any site where I can get last year interview questions?


  18. on 15th november will announce the result of acio said in the comments upto now results are not yet announced pls update the mha website about announcement of result

  19. Sir,
    I expect 60 in the objective paper and around 40 in essay (Category: Gen)..
    What are my chances?
    Is it so that the essay will be checked only if i get the qualifying marks in objectives??
    Kindly reply

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