The interaction of externally injected charged particles (electrons) with plasma waves moving with a phase velocity that is very close to the speed of light is examined. Such plasma waves form the basis of at least three collective accelerator schemes: the plasma beat wave accelerator (PBWA), the plasma wake-field accelerator (PWFA), and the laser wake-field accelerator (LWFA). First, the electron trapping threshold, energy gain and acceleration length are examined using a 1-D model. This model elucidates how the final energies of the injected test electrons depend upon their injection and extraction phases and phase slippage. Phase energy diagrams are shown to be extremely useful in visualizing wave-particle interactions in 1-D. Second, we examine, using a two-dimensional model, the effects of radial electric fields on focusing or defocusing the injected particles depending upon their radial positions and phases in the relativistically moving potential well. Finally, we extend the model to 3-D so that the effect of injected particles' emittance on the acceleration process may be determined. This simple 3-D model will be extremely useful in predicting the electron energy spectra of several current experiments designed to demonstrate ultrahigh gradient acceleration of externally injected test particles by relativistic plasma waves.