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Octet exceptions are usually for atoms who have access to their d subshell. I would suggest looking to see if the central atom in your molecule can access it and if it does then that atom can have 10 electrons instead of fulfilling the octet.
An additional subgroup of octet exceptions are the Lewis acids of periods 2 and 3-- Boron and Aluminum. These two elements are alright having a partially-filled octet of 6 valence e-, but may also possess a filled octet. I think you may just need to remember that those two are exceptions; perhaps remember that the first two elements of the IIIA column are exceptions?
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