In 2011, 79,000 children did not get into the secondary school of their choice, equating to almost one in six, although 84.6% of 11-year-olds did receive an offer from their preferred institution.
This year, around 74,000 children missed out. Although this was a decrease of 5,000 compared to 2011, there were 8,500 fewer children applying for secondary school places in 2012.
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg called the government's approach to schools "simply haphazard".
"Parents will be worried that increasing pressure on school places, the fact that the government is not prioritising real need, and there is no plan to raise standards in all schools will only make this situation worse.
"The Government must prioritise the majority of schools in England, not just a few pet projects."
But schools minister Nick Gibb insisted the coalition's reforms would allow parents to send their children to a "good 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.
"The new admissions code will make it easier for the best schools to create more places.Academies and Free Schools have given parents more choice of good school places."
The figures also reveal children in the North East have the highest chance of gaining a place at their chosen school as 95.1% in the region got their first choice.
Pupils in London have the highest chance of missing out: a mere two-thirds (67.2%) were offered a place at their first preference this year.