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Query on unpartitioned 10-million-row table takes seven minutes

I have a table in Oracle 9i RAC which contains 10 million records, but it was not partitioned. So whenever we query it, it takes too much time -- almost seven to eight minutes for one query. How can I optimize the query, and what is the best option for me to give the result as soon as possible? What is the cause for it taking so much time? How can I increase my performance?
It's impossible to answer this question without details on the table, its keys and indexes, the nature of the queries, data distribution, and so on. I suggest that you start your effort by consulting the "Oracle Database Performance Tuning Guide," specifically Part IV, Optimizing SQL Statements.

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