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The exceptions are the first few atoms because they usually lose electrons to fill just the 1s orbital. I think other exceptions are like the example from class with SO4, where sulfur had more than 8 electrons because they went into the 3d orbital of sulfur.
The first 4 elements are the ones that are an exception (along with others). The elements H, He, Li, and Be are exceptions to the octet rule because they are in the 2s orbital, meaning they can only have most 2 electrons. Here's more info on them in case you are confused: viewtopic.php?t=6008
I agree what everyone said, but basically the rule says in covalent bonds atoms share electrons until a noble-gas configuration is reached so it helps to check certain Lewis Structures to see the correct structures, there are exceptions like H,He,Li,Be.
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