the purpose of this research was to analyze efl writing tasks in the most popular esol (english for speakers of other languages) exam preparation courses in iran: ielts, toefl, fce and cae. having collected the criteria of writing task appropriateness in light of the process-oriented approach to writing instruction, 114 learner participants were asked to rate efl writing tasks based on a checklist previously gathered and validated. an observation process was conducted of the task performance followed by an interview with teachers about the nature of these courses and learners’ motivation. according to the learners’ primary needs and goals, the four types of courses were initially divided into two groups: group-1 (ielts/toefl) and group-2 (fce/cae). the independent-sample t-test was employed to compare the mean scores of ratings for all items of the checklist once between ielts and toefl courses in group 1 and once between fce and cae in group 2. significant differences were obtained especially related to the quality of writing procedures .