when the question talks about the surface area, we need to consider only the visible side of the shape, right?

And the area of the base is only one side of the shape that touches the ground?

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In General there are two types of Surface Area : 1. Lateral Surface Area(LSA) = without including the area of top and the base 2. Total Surface Area(TSA) which includes the area of top and the base.

Now, only TSA is generally asked unless they mentioned some constraints

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Yes, you would only have to consider the visible or outside of the shape. But be careful â€“ GRE sometimes likes to trick people by saying the box is â€śopenâ€ť or the cylinder is â€śopen on both sides.â€ť In both cases, the surface area would have to be decreased accordingly.

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