i know people who have blown word limits and gotten severely punished for it
i know people who have blatantly, obviously and admittedly blown word limits and not suffered any consequences
that's why it's important to establish with your professor before the exam what the punishments for blowing the word limits are. IMO if it's not written clearly (what does it take... 10 seconds?) on the exam what the parameters of the word limit are and how violations are going to be punished then it shouldn't be enforced
example: our crim law exam had page limits. he never specified how the pages were to be formatted and the exam had NO instructions on it (just said "page limit: 4 pages" after the prompts and had literally no other instructions but "staple this to your answer sheet"), single or double spaced, what point font, etc. all he said in class was: as long as it's legible. i took that to mean 10 point font single spaced would be fine. if i get punished for that, ill be upset.
others took that to mean 12-point font double spaced. im not sure why, but they did.