Parents of almost a quarter of pupils starting primary school last year tried to get their children into a school outside their catchment area.
Some 60% of placing requests were for primary schools
Scottish Executive figures showed that 30,240 placing requests were received for all schools in the 2005/06 year.
They show that 60% of those applications were for primary schools, accounting for 22% of the school roll.
Some 84% of all requests were granted, with a lack of room the most common reason for rejecting an application.
That accounted for 32% of primary school rejections and 39% for secondary schools, although staffing concerns were named as one of the other major factors.
Almost 90% of the 18,254 placing requests for primary schools were granted, while 76% of the 11,845 for secondaries were approved.
Some 80% of the 141 requests for special schools were approved.
The number of placing requests and the percentage approved have changed little over the past decade.
Ministers said they supported parents' right to choose and were committed to driving up standards in every school.
Judith Gillespie, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council's development manager, said parents' views differed on the placing request system.
"There are those who seek to use it to have their child go to a different school," she said.
"Then quite often the parents at the school that becomes over-populous through parental choice become unhappy and uncomfortable because their school becomes overcrowded, so they are not so enthusiastic.
"There isn't a single view on parental choice, even among parents."
A spokesman for local government body Cosla said parents could make a placement request for a number of reasons.
"But local government is clear that the quality of the local school should not have to be a consideration," he said.
"We believe that one of the advantages of the Scottish comprehensive education system is that both local government and the Scottish Executive is working to achieve excellence in all schools, not just a selective elite.
"This means that every parent should be able to send their children to an excellent, local school."