@Just Sorry I should have been clearer about the import process. It can be confusing. To import the question you need to click Assignments then click the Import Content link on the left hand side.
You then click Import and choose the zip file that I provided. This will present you with a screen detailing the content in the zip file. Selected everything and proceed.
That was just for future reference. It seems you have sucessfully created the question manually.
You need to be careful what sort of syntax you accept in this box. You need to choose Maple-syntax and text-entry only. This is an option for the answer box itself. Depending on how you created the question, there are two places this opton could be.
Fig: Changing expression type for a question designer response area
Fig: Changing the expression type for a Maple-graded question type.
By default this is set to formula so does not expect explicit * symbols for multiplication. The effect of this if Maple T.A. attempts to interpret what a student enters, so
a5 = a*5 = 5*a
5a = 5*a
which are, in the end, mathematically identical.
Fig: Expression type: Formula
For what you require this is not the desired behaviour. You can change the algorithm to
Now as long as you change the accepted syntax on the answer box, this question should work as you required.
Let me know if you have any problems. This can be a quite tricky issue and I agree that you should hide your students from complicated syntax where possible.