Well, first there is the grammatical consideration. What does it say? Not woodenly, but what does the text say? What does the Greek or Hebrew mean? What are the verb tenses? Hopefully you are using a Bible that takes this into account. Some are better than others. But be sure to include what the text says in context rather than the simple content of one verse.
Next there is the standard suggestion of the text being literal. Unless there is clearly a figure of speech or a biblical contradiction, assume that the text means what it says. When the gospel says "And when He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up" (Matt 21:10), you can tell that it's an idiom and that there might have possibly been a housewife or a child or two that knew nothing about the event without actually classifying this as a lie. On the other hand when Paul writes, "None is righteous, no, not one" (Rom 3:10), standard understanding coupled with the repeated "no, not one" would suggest that this is not hyperbole, but an actual statement of fact.
Proper exegesis would include a historical perspective. What was going on at the time? How did they understand what was being said? These things aid in understanding and help avoid mistakes.
One of the absolute essentials of good exegesis is this simple rule: Let Scripture interpret Scripture. There is, of course, the text. But the text exists within a context. The context primarily is the surrounding text, but includes the purpose for which it was written and the historical context. If you find a text that appears to contradict another text, you have failed to properly understand something and it's time to examine it all more closely because Scripture doesn't contradict Scripture; Scripture interprets Scripture.
To be avoided, then, are two very popular failures. First is the woodenly literal approach, and the second, more prevalent, is the eisegesis approach -- reading into Scripture what isn't there. Let me use a passage that you can see will illustrate all three approaches.
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).First, the text (ESV) differs from the King James because of grammatical considerations. The KJV says, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." The ESV takes into account the verb tense for the word "sin" and recognizes that it is in the ongoing, continual present tense.
The wooden literal approach, then, would say, "No one born of God can sin. Thus, the verse is claiming that all true believers enjoy sinless perfection." The position is fine from a direct reading of the King James, but fails on two points. First, it fails to take into account the actual grammar. This is key. Second, it fails to take into account context and to let Scripture interpret Scripture. Since John (the author of this text) also assures us that we sin (1 John 1:8-10) and that when we sin we have an Advocate (1 John 2:1), clearly the position that true believers never sin is contradictory. For these reasons, this is poor exegesis. (Note that it is not poor exegesis because it does not align with our experience.)
The most popular approach would be eisegesis, reading into the text what isn't there. One attempt at this would be to say, "I don't know anyone who never sins, so it cannot mean that." In other words, "My experience trumps text." Classic eisegesis. Often but not always motivated by "My experience trumps text" concerns, another approach might be "No one born of God makes a practice of knowingly sinning. Sinning in ignorance is a perfectly good possibility." It's a nice idea, to be sure, and likely more popular than the text on its face would be, but it isn't in the text. Neither the language nor its context suggests "knowingly". The only way to insert that is to do so from the outside -- eisegesis.
Having eliminated "No Christian ever sins" (wooden literal) and "Christians sin all the time, just not knowingly" (eisegesis), the question has to be asked what the text does mean. The language suggests that the ESV is correct. The question is one of not making a practice of sin. The context supports this by giving a reason: "God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God." That is, God has changed the nature of the believer and will supply His Holy Spirit to convict of sin (John 16:8) and lead to truth (John 16:13). John goes on to say that there are two and only two categories of people. There are the children of God and the children of the devil. (So much for the "universal fatherhood of God", eh?) The difference between these is not found in avoiding known sin, but in practicing righteousness (or not) (1 John 3:10). Those who are born of God, then, have supernatural influences that disallow the possibility of continuing in sin and, instead, cause an increasing practice of righteousness. Suggestions to the contrary (either sinless perfection or ignorant sinning) would both be popular but would both fall outside the parameters of good biblical exegesis.
If you want to properly understand Scripture, to "rightly divide the Word of truth", do it with good practices of exegesis. It will stand you in good stead and provide great benefits in life. It might even prevent you from sinning in ignorance.