"He received the title that year."
Translation:Il reçoit le titre cette année-là.
You're right, and the suggested translation "Il reçoit" doesn't really make sense here, out of any context.
Notice however, that in French we like to use the "historical present" when narrating history. Therefore, if the original sentence was part of text narrating the whole life of someone, it could indeed be told using the present tense in French.
Why is it année and not an. He would have received the title at some point during the year, not during the whole of the year. I really struggle to understand the difference between how an and année are used but each time I think I've grasped it it becomes clear that I haven't.