The simplest way to memorize a list of random words is to use what’s called the linking method. Basically every word in the list will be “linked” is some imaginative way to the previous and the following word inside some short story. Practicing the linking method can be a very good creativity exercise. Here’s a nice example of how it can work. Please note that the stories you’ve built yourself should be much easier to remember than those built by others.
Most words you will have to remember will be easy enough. For more abstract or difficult to visualize words, just use something else to remember it instead. Pettiness could be remembered using Donald Trump. Admonish could be remembered using your parents admonishing you for not doing your homework. Even if you had never heard the word admonish before in your life, you could still find a way to remember it just by using one or two small parts of the word and substituting them for something that sounds similar. You could choose to imagine an ad, a monk (“monish”) or even a fish. All terrible examples, but better than nothing. It’s usually a better strategy to go with a very bad image that you can improvise quickly and review later than to spend too much time trying to think of the perfect mnemonic.
Often two or three words can be combined into a single image. You can also sometimes combine different strategies, using both the meaning of the word and the way it sounds. Pettiness and admonish could be remembered using a very small Donald Trump (small because pettiness sounds like “petit” in French) feeding money to a fish (money+fish=”monish”).
In a CMSA competition, the correction is made by rows of 10, and words have to be remembered in order. For that reason, I would advise making a quick mental note every 10 or 20 words. Maybe add a wall or a crater or a nail to your story every 10 or 20 words to remember that you’re supposed to switch row at that point.
Alternative ways to memorize random words: The linking method is great, but for most people most of the time, this isn’t the most efficient method. You can click here to read more on this subject.