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A reversible process is slow and efficient whereas an irreversible process is fast and inefficient. Also, irreversible gas expansions occur under conditions of constant external pressure while reversible gas expansions do not have constant external pressure.
Sometimes it's also easy to think conceptually whether a process can be undone (reversible) or not (irreversible) such as combustion, once something is burned then it cannot be undone, therefore it is an irreversible system.
Usually, there are key works in the problems that tells you if a system is reversible or irreversible. For instance, constant pressure means that the system is irreversible and you would use the equation w=-P(delta)V to calculate work. Hope that helps!
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