Figures just released reveal that just one in six pupils in England missed out on their top choice of secondary school this year.
In London, pupils had the highest risk of losing out, with just two-thirds being offered a place at their first-choice school.
Children in the North East had the highest chance of gaining a place at their chosen school - 95.1 per cent in the region gained their first choice.
But overall in England, 14.7 per cent of 11-year-olds - 74,000 - failed to get a place at their first preference in the annual scramble for the country's best schools.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb admitted that "too many" pupils would have to attend a secondary school in September that was not top of their list.
He said that the Government was "tackling underperformance in those schools that parents seek to avoid in their list of preferences".
The statistics, published by the Department for Education, show the secondary school offers made to more than 503,000 children by 151 local authorities in England on National Offer Day, March 1.
There was a 0.7 percentage point improvement in the proportion of children getting an offer at their first preference school compared to last year.
Mr Gibb said: "I am pleased that year-on-year more pupils are being offered a place at their preferred school.
"Unfortunately, whilst progress is being made, we are still some way short of making this a reality for all pupils.
"Parents are faced with an extremely competitive and stressful process for securing a place for their children.
"We want to ease this pressure by creating more good school places, which is the driver behind all our reforms to the education system."
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