Write an equation for the following statement: “There are six times as many students as professors at this university.” Use S for the number of students and P for the number of professors. (Alternatively - Write an equation using the variables C and E to represent the following statement: There are 8 times as many people in China as there are in England.)

6s = p

This is known as the reversal error. There are a number of different potential issues underlying this error. (See modeling encyclopedia entries: Syntactic issues in problem solving, variables as labels in modeling, and English language learners and modeling) This problem can be used to assess how students are using variables and the extent to which students rely on sentence structure to construct symbolic representations.