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You use noble gas configuration as a short cut. It's called "shorthand" electron configuration. Typically, you can use either way (noble gas or long way), but it is easier to use shorthand because it is less to write.
There is no rule of thumb when to use noble gas configuration or not. It's simply preference and generally you write in noble gas configuration to make things simple. However, it will vary between the questions asked: sometimes they will asked for the complete configuration written out while other questions will ask for short hand or noble gas configuration.
There's no specific rule as to when you must use the noble gas configuration over the complete electron configuration. My TA said it is much simpler to use the noble gas configuration but to be careful on exams when you are asked to provide the entire electron configuration of an element
The noble gas configuration is a short hand version of the actual electron configuration. It is usually used for elements with large atomic numbers on the periodic table to simplify. Either way is correct and can be used to represent the electron configuration of an element.
Noble gas notation is mainly used out of pure convenience. You can use it whenever, but it makes more sense to use it for the elements with larger atomic numbers. I, personally, would use it for the elements after Neon.
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