I have noticed that misinterpretations of notation are becoming more common. For instance, many students have difficulty when differentiating something such as y = sin(tan(x)), mistakenly interpreting it as a product as opposed to a composition. Jasper makes a good point when he emphasizes that the context is usually a good guide as to how to interpret. In my example, the function sine has to act on something, which would be tan(x). As a rule, if you are unsure how to interpret, ask for clarification. If the situation does not allow that, or the instructor declines to comment, closely examine the context.