Circle unfamiliar words. Then look them up, and write down the definition.
Use question marks to indicate areas of uncertainty.
Use stars to indicate anything that seems important, such as themes, symbols, foreshadowing, etc.
Use exclamation points to indicate something dramatic, or a key turning point.
Circle character names any time they are introduced for the first time.
Keep a list somewhere, maybe on the inside cover, of all the characters and their traits. Add to this list as new characters are introduced, or as you learn more about existing characters.
Write your notes in the margins (best method), on sticky-notes (decent method), or in a separate notebook (least favorable method).
Paraphrase (summarize) each chapter after you finish reading it. You only need a few sentences to do this. Write it down at the beginning or end of the chapter.
Write down any questions you have about the text – either questions you’re willing to wait to find out the answer to as you read further, or questions you want to bring up to your teacher in class the next day.
Use a color-coded system if that type of thing appeals to you. (Colors! Yes!)
Give each chapter a title. After you finish reading each chapter, go back to its title page and give it a title. The title should simply be the main idea of the chapter, or a statement about the main event in the chapter. If the chapter already has a title, it’s likely just catchy and not helpful, so still go ahead and title it yourself.